ALABAMA (WKRG) – The problem is growing nationwide, but close to home, major highways and interstates make Alabama a hotspot for human trafficking.
“All over our state, north and south. 65 and 10, 85. All major interstates where girls are taken on circuit from city to city,” said Chris Ziebach, founder of Camille Place.
The group is a non-profit organization that provides shelter and assistance to trafficking victims. She and her longtime friend Amanda Luker quit their day jobs to build a home where victims can heal.
“What we’re seeing is because there’s so few homes in the country, the waitlist can be 100,” she said.
It’s six years in the making but construction has started on the new shelter. It’s located in rural south Alabama, where the need is great.
“Right now, if we were open, we would be full,” Luker said.
The organization is getting a helping hand from churches and volunteers from across the Southeast. Many have donated materials and time to build a place where victims feel safe. The Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force reports 80 percent of victims are female.
“I think the last count I had we had eight different states involved in it. Men that have come from eight different states,” said Donis McWaters, who is helping with construction. He serves with Men and Women of Action of Alabama.
“Right now, we are getting sheetrock up. That should be done by Wednesday,” said Luker, who gave WKRG News 5 a tour of the 10,000-square-foot project on Monday.
The goal is to have the new facility open in early 2022. The organizers say the multi-billion-dollar human trafficking industry isn’t slowing down and construction on the building can’t be completed soon enough.
“Trafficking is now the No. 1, I think it has finally surpassed drugs, as the No. 1 illegal crime in the world. It’s the most profitable. You can sell marijuana one time, but you can sell a child many times,” Luker said.
The group is noticing an uptick in cases with children over the last couple of years. The organizers say a lot of that has to do with children using social media and the internet, giving predators easy access without any red flags going up.
The exact location of the new shelter isn’t being announced to make sure all victims stay protected. Clothing and assistance will be provided to victims as they come into the home.