As human trafficking garners more mainstream attention, it’s only natural for questions to arise.
Communities across the country, along with organizations like Operation Underground Railroad and A21, remain hard at work to raise awareness and inform people about how they can combat human trafficking.
Recently on social media, questions about zip ties (notably on cars) and their potential connection to people being marked for human trafficking have come up.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, this gained so much attention that Attorney General Hector Balderas is weighing in.
Balderas on zip ties and human trafficking
According to the attorney general of New Mexico, he receives about 225 tips on human trafficking each month.
Though as far as zip ties on cars go, this is a crime. It is a crime regardless of whether or not perpetrators intend to mark the car owners as targets for trafficking.
Next, Balderas said his team is digging into the use of zip tips on vehicles. They’re also investigating whether this is happening to scare people or mark them.
Either way, the attorney general warns that perpetrators who place zip ties on other people’s vehicles remain subject to investigation and criminal prosecution. People who find these ties on their vehicles should immediately notify law enforcement, added Balderas.
The 225-per-month reports of human trafficking cases in New Mexico, on the other hand, may only be a drop in the bucket. After all, it remains well-established that many cases of human trafficking go unreported.
To this point, Balderas warned that traffickers look for vulnerabilities in those they intend to exploit. Some helpful hints the attorney general provided to avoid becoming a target are as follows:
- Not posting online when you may be alone
- Not letting strangers know your whereabouts or the whereabouts of loved ones
More on remaining vigilant against human traffickers
With the rise of social media, many traffickers are using these platforms to find victims. Therefore, it’s crucial for people to remain aware of the tactics that traffickers use on social media to build rapport with targets.
According to Operation Underground Railroad, traffickers sometimes create phony profiles to connect with others. Accounts with reverse images, little content, few friends, etc. should be treated with caution.
Human traffickers may also scour the internet, searching for people posting about troubles in their personal lives; often, traffickers seek to fill the void before they begin abuse and exploitation.
This is something parents should be especially mindful of if their children maintain a presence on social media.
Anyone who wishes to report what they believe to be human trafficking can contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline via phone at 1 (888) 373-7888 or by text at 233733.