CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey underscored the seriousness of human trafficking and urged all citizens to take an active role in learning to identify and eradicate the growing criminal industry.
The Attorney General’s call to action coincides with National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, which is recognized each January.
Human trafficking is defined as commercial sex or labor that is induced by force, fraud or coercion. It is considered the second largest criminal industry in the world today, second only to drug trafficking, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Human trafficking is a heinous crime that reduces people to property and so often, children and teenagers are at risk of being trafficked,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Our office strives to equip everyone with the tools they need to identify victims and help stop human trafficking so we can protect these vulnerable populations. We need to be aware of human trafficking and work together to eradicate it, not just this month, but year-round.”
West Virginia’s increased rate of drug addiction, poverty and its large number of children in foster care make the state especially susceptible to human trafficking.
The Attorney General’s Office established best practices in 2017 aimed at raising awareness about human trafficking.
Since then, the office has offered intensive training to more than 7,000 people. This includes 1,100 law enforcement officers, plus numerous other groups, including medical professionals, social service workers, students, school personnel, community members and civic groups across the Mountain State.
The Attorney General’s Office plans to continue to host training sessions across West Virginia in the future. The ultimate goal is to establish greater awareness and increase overall reporting of the issue throughout the state.
Those interested in scheduling or learning more about training offered by the Attorney General’s Office should call 304-558-2021.
Anyone who suspects someone may have been forced into human trafficking should call the state Fusion Center at 866-WVWATCH and contact local law enforcement.