LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - January has been designated as Human Trafficking Awareness month, and the Family Crisis Center of East Texas is working to educate the community on how to identify human trafficking victims.
Residents listened as organizers expressed the importance of knowing the signs.
Human trafficking prevention specialist Maria Villarreal shared signs to look out for, including inappropriate clothing for the weather. This might be because the victim could be trying to cover up bruises or other signs of abuse.
Villareal says traffickers target the more vulnerable population, such as chronic runaway children and students on college campuses.
“Something that we tend to lookout for are tattoos. Tattoos such as a crown, a thrown, the traffickers name or daddy. Those are signs that that victim is the property of the trafficker,” Villarreal explained.
According to Villarreal, statistics show that trafficking can happen to not only women but men, as well.
“Males, boys and men, make up 29 percent exactly of victims,” Villarreal added.
Over the past year, Villarreal says there have been between 20 to 30 human trafficked survivors in the East Texas area. Also, there are a few recruiting spots to look out for such as malls, parks, and hotels.