Several organizations gathered to talk about human trafficking, emphasizing that anyone can be a victim of this crime including sexual exploitation and forced labor.

During the proclamation, homeland security revealed how many rescues and arrests were made in 2019.

“Last year, we rescued over 400 hundred victims and arrested and prosecuted over 2,000 individuals involved in human trafficking”

Officials say victims can be men or women, children or adults — from any socio-economic status. Human trafficking spans all demographics, but foreign nationals are frequently targeted by traffickers.

“What we see a lot when we look at human trafficking is individuals from third world countries. These organizations go and what they do is trick them into coming into the united states or another country in Europe and trick them that they are going to get a job.”

Recognizing the signs of human trafficking is important in identifying a victim. An emergency shelter tells us what to keep an eye out for.

“So some of the red flags can be for the kids is are they wearing different clothing, do they have additional phones that can’t be explained. Are they missing school? Are they in and out of the foster care system? Are they in and out of the juvenile system?”

One school district in Laredo has a few recommendations for parents to help them prevent their children from becoming victims of human trafficking.

“How to supervise their kid’s social media accounts and their gadgets, their electronic devices, because of the predators for these types of human trafficking search for weaknesses in any person”

If you know of someone or have witnessed something suspicious that may indicate someone is a victim of human trafficking, report it to your local authorities.