HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - January 10 is Alabama's Human Trafficking Awareness Day, which comes just before the national day of awareness. In fact, all of January is meant to serve as a month of educating people about human trafficking.
David Pinkleton of the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force and End It Alabama said the state has come a long way in fighting human trafficking. At one time Alabama was graded nationally with a 'D' in prevention. Now Alabama has an 'A'.
"I-20 is actually known as a superhighway for human trafficking," said Pinkleton. "Huntsville is in the middle of Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Birmingham. They basically make a ring," he added.
There's a chance you may have inadvertently come across a human trafficking victim at some point in your life.
"If you're at a Walmart parking lot or a Waffle House and you see individuals who don't appear to be in control... somebody is controlling them. You are seeing tattoo's on them... they are branded... you might consider calling that in," said Pinkleton.
Sometimes victims could be hiding in plain sight.
"It could be a student that continually has absences in school (or moves around a lot), if you are an educator or a counselor, take note," said Pinkleton.
For more tips and for how you can get involved, click here.
According to End It Alabama, human trafficking is the 2nd largest criminal industry in the world. Bringing in an estimated 150 billion dollars annually. There are actually more modern slaves today than ever before.
"Come to our meetings. We always meet on the first Tuesday of every month at 2 o'clock at the National Children's Advocacy Center in downtown Huntsville. We actually have a really exciting Alabama human trafficking summit on January 31 down in Montgomery at the Renaissance Hotel," said Pinkleton.
End It Alabama said public awareness has grown significantly, and they feel people are no longer clueless as to what human trafficking is.
"There were times in the past where we were felt we were just screaming in the wind. We were wondering 'is anyone listening?' Now we have individuals that are actually in the community, that want to get involved," said Pinkleton.