CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has recognized January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and urges all citizens to take an active role in eradicating this growing criminal industry.
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 has become an especially pressing problem here in West Virginia, in part, due to a drug epidemic that has left so many addicts desperate enough to do almost anything to support their habit,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “We must protect vulnerable populations such as children, at-risk teens and others. That is why this office is so dedicated to equipping everyone with the tools they need to identify victims and help stop 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 well over 3,500 people. This includes 500 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 National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-374-7888 and contact local law enforcement.