Human trafficking in our community is a growing concern and the FBI is speaking out, trying to raise awareness of the signs you need to look for.
Human trafficking brings in billions of dollars each year, and is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises. Victims can be from anywhere.
"White, black, Asian, young, old, children, adults, it comes across the board," said Paul Daymond with the FBI.
Here in Birmingham and our surrounding communities, the FBI is working several cases. Some involve sex slaves, others involve labor slaves. For example, maid services is one of the industry's that's often overlooked.
"If people don't have access to their identification, documents, don't have access to their financial documents, or bank accounts, if you identify that, that is certainly an indicator they may be a victim," said Daymond.
He says employers should talk to their employees and ask these questions.
The FBI says some employees at nail salons could also be victims. But there are signs you can look for.
"If you see several young girls that have some tattoo of some kind, or the same guy's name on their arm somewhere, that is a clue they could be a victim of human trafficking," said Daymond.
Often times, the victim is vulnerable. It could be a runaway teen, it could be someone looking for a better life, or in some cases just a victim of circumstance.
"In some cases it involves the parents who will sell their children into this situation. Other folks do it for the lure of coming to this country. They thinking they're coming to this country for one reason, once they get here they're trapped," said Daymond.
But you can help these victims by paying attention to signs and notifying the FBI.
"We would rather take your information and it be nothing than you not call at all," said Daymond.
If you think someone you know could be a victim of human trafficking call the FBI here in Birmingham at 205-326-6166.
You can also contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.
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