Law enforcement, truckers team up to fight human trafficking

Employees from the trucking industry are meeting in St. Paul Tuesday to learn how to spot and respond to suspected human trafficking.

The training sessions include about 100 law enforcement officials, as well as workers from the busing and trucking industries.

Esther Goetsch, who works with Truckers Against Trafficking, said truckers are in a good position to observe victims while they're working. They'll learn how to tell whether a possible trafficking victim is under control of another person or being coerced.

"Trained, equipped and empowered to recognize the signs of human trafficking and then to report it to law enforcement, they will continue to save lives," Gotesch said.

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Truckers attending the meetings will also hear stories of human trafficking from police officers, prosecutors and trafficking survivors.

Kevin Otto is the chair of the Minnesota Trucking Association and runs a trucking firm in Delano, Minn. All 25 of his workers have already been trained to recognize and report human trafficking.

"As truckers we are trained to observe, as truckers we are always watching," Otto said. "We see more, and as truckers we want to help people."

Similar training sessions in the next few days will teach law enforcement officials how to respond to reports of trafficking and how to deal with trafficking victims.

The meetings signal the launch of a coalition between law enforcement, the trucking industry and the organization Truckers Against Trafficking. Preliminary numbers show there were at least 173 reported cases of human trafficking in Minnesota last year.