CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is urging all citizens to take an active role in learning about human trafficking to help eradicate the industry.
This has been a serious problem throughout the mountain state and is recognized every January for National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
“Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said.
Human trafficking is defined as commercial sex or labor that is induced by force, fraud or coercion. It’s the second-largest criminal industry in the world today, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“It’s a serious problem around the world. It also impacts people here in West Virginia,” Morrisey said.
The increased rate of drug addiction, poverty and its large number of children in foster care makes West Virginia especially susceptible to human trafficking.
“We found that this is sometimes tied to the opioid epidemic, and we started working on this many years ago,” Morrisey said.
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.
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.