VSP launches ‘Operation Safe Passage’ to deter and raise awareness of human trafficking

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia State Police announced that they are launching “Operation Safe Passage,” a high-visibility human trafficking prevention initiative.

For three days beginning Monday, April 18, Virginia state troopers will be positioned at truck stops, motor carrier service centers and rest areas across Virginia, engaging with drivers and distributing educational materials to raise awareness about human trafficking.

The initiative is in collaboration with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations and the Virginia Trucking Association.

“With tens of thousands of commercial trucks and buses traveling through and across Virginia on any given day, this statewide initiative has extensive, life-saving potential,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Commercial drivers can be our added eyes and ears when it comes to identifying the common indicators of human trafficking victims and perpetrators. This campaign is about putting an end to a very serious crime that intentionally preys on vulnerable adult and juvenile populations.”

According to Homeland Security Investigations, 2,360 people were arrested in connection to human trafficking by HSI agents and 720 trafficking victims were identified.

“I am extremely pleased to see the Virginia State Police taking an aggressive and active stance towards addressing what has become a global pandemic,” said Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Bob Mosier. “Virginia has no tolerance for the exploitation of any human being, and is committed to apprehending, prosecuting and bringing to justice anyone associated with this crime.”

State troopers will also be routinely inspecting motor carriers over the course of the operation.

Anyone who suspects human trafficking is asked to report it by dialing #77 on a cell phone or by calling 911. Tips can also be submitted anonymously by calling 1-866-347-2423.

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