RENO, NV - Between 100,000 and 300,000 kids in the United States are at risk of being forced into the sex for sale industry, according to the Department of Justice. That's why local law enforcement and Nevada Trucking officials came together to bring greater awareness to the issue of human trafficking.
Right off I-80, our area is the kind of place people from other states pass through. It's also the kind of place that could attract transient crimes like human trafficking.
"We're just trying to get the word out on human trafficking. That is a big problem in our country," says Neil Wilson, of Travel Centers of America.
On Wednesday, Nevada trucking and truck stop officials - as well as law enforcement officers - teamed up to talk about a new campaign. It's aimed at making people in the trucking industry more aware of the signs of human trafficking going on around them.
"Because we're on the front lines. They can use our sites to travel from one point of the country to another," says Neil Wilson. "And... It's our responsibility to help rid the nation of this crime."
Reno Police say it's a problem that hits close to home.
"In the last ten years we've investigated over 50 cases of juveniles engaged in prosecution. And their ages range between 12 and 17 years of age," says Lt. Scott Dugan of the Reno Police Department.
As part of the campaign, the Nevada Trucking Association has distributed DVDs to truckers to teach them what they need to watch out for, in case they see something suspicious at truck stops or on the road.
"If you talk to a young girl or boy and they really don't know where they are - they're restricted from speaking, or they don't have their ID or they're fearful or anxious, to recognize those signs and then notify the authorities," says Paul Enos, CEO of the Nevada Trucking Association.
But officials say it's not just truckers who can help fight this problem. Any driver should watch for red flags and not hesitate to call 9-1-1 if they see what appears to be human trafficking going on.