United Against Human Trafficking Coalition expands into SWLA

Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 7:28 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - There’s a new effort to crack down on human trafficking and support its victims across Texas and Southwest Louisiana.

Multiple agencies in Calcasieu Parish are joining forces with the “United Against Human Trafficking Coalition.”

Ken Henry with the Coalition explained the importance of the group and helping victims, “We’re moving them along at the pace that they’re ready to go because at the end of the day it’s about them not only just healing both mentally and emotionally but creating a life that is livable for them. And so that’s what we do, that’s housing that’s skills that’s jobs. So that’s what we do.”

Now, the group is working to expand its efforts.

The anti-human trafficking organization is based out of Houston, TX, and is helping to create an alliance between their area and Southwest Louisiana.

Eileen Dong is a survivor of human trafficking and an advocate of efforts to reign in this horrible crime, “We need to build a coalition because Texas is doing a lot. So the numbers are going to Oklahoma now. If we’re not collaborating then they’re just going to be moving, so we have to all work together.”

Organizers of the coalition say, with Houston being a hot spot for trafficking and only two hours away from our area, the partnership just makes sense.

“And you have casinos here in Lake Charles which is, you know, that draws folks to come,” explains Henry. “Anytime you have big events anywhere it’s going to draw folks to bring people in to traffic them. So it is very very important that people understand by the time it hits your home, it is too late.”

Laurie Martin also works with the collation and says, “Lake Charles and Southwest Louisiana, we’ve always kind of thought, ‘Oh it’s not us.’ And now it is, we are becoming aware that it is us. And with our I-10 corridor here and to just protect our community and our children, I think this is needed.”

If you’d like to get involved with the coalition, you can reach out to the United Way of Southwest Louisiana online or at 337-433-1088. You can also attend their next meeting at their building on 815 Ryan Street in Lake Charles, on October 27 at 1 p.m.