NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Human trafficking is on the rise nationwide, and now the feds are training hotel workers to spot the warning signs.
Just this week, police arrested David Jones for child trafficking. He’s accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old girl and selling her for sex in New Orleans. According to the warrant, the young girl told police she performed sex acts with men in exchange for money and handed the cash over to her pimp. She said she stayed at a local hotel in the downtown area with that man.
“It looked like she decided to venture out on her own, not tell anyone where she was going, and all of sudden she ended up in the hands of these child sex traffickers,” said Craig Mordock, an attorney representing the victim’s family.
The feds are working to stop cases like that.
“If you talk to hotels and bartenders and things of the sort, they see it all, and so what we’re really hoping to do is to talk to those people, to say given that you are already the eyes and ears of the city, if you see something that doesn’t quite look right, here’s some signs and symptoms, here’s some indicators of what trafficking may be,” said Homeland Security Investigations spokesman Bryan Cox.
Thursday, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent and Human Trafficking Specialist Vaughn Harper, spoke to New Orleans hotel workers about what they should look out for.
“Hotels in particular because there’s a lot of transit. It’s a big business, its a hub for sex trafficking, so if someone is trying to look for commercial sex or prostitution, hotels are a place people go to engage in that, and we want to work with the hotels to again mitigate that, to deter that,” said Harper.
The Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association, Mavis Early, says over a 100 hotels will take part in training.
“If you see somebody, a woman who looks like she’s resisting and being pushed into the hotel or elevator or something, the rule is if you see something, say something,” said Early.
As for Jones, he is now facing charges of trafficking children, sexual battery, cruelty to a juvenile and second-degree kidnapping.
So what should you look out for?
The Department of Homeland Security says these are some questions you can ask yourself if you encounter a possible trafficking victim. Can the victim freely contact friends or family? Is the victim in possession of their identification and travel documents? If not, who has control of those items? And, does the victim have freedom of movement?