JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri State Highway Patrol is working to raise awareness about human trafficking.

The patrol will work to educate truck drivers, officers, and members of the public about the problem, and signs that it may be happening in communities across the state. The initiative will also tell people what to do if they think they are witnessing human trafficking.

“Human trafficking often involves our nation’s transportation systems, including Missouri’s roadways,” Col. Eric T. Olson, Missouri State Highway Patrol, said. “Our commercial vehicle drivers, inspectors, law enforcement officers, and the general public need to know what to look for and how to respond to these situations to help rescue the vulnerable people being exploited.”

Experts say human trafficking doesn’t always come in the form of sex trafficking. It can also be forced labor or domestic servitude. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, according to the highway patrol.

Signs of human trafficking are not always obvious, and may include:

  • The presence of an older “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”
  • Travel with an older male/female who isn’t a guardian
  • Signs of psychological coercion, such as depression, anxiety, and a submissive attitude
  • Lack of control over schedule, money
  • Physical injuries
  • Poor health
  • Rehearsed responses to questions

The highway patrol says anyone can report possible human trafficking by calling 1-888-373-7888.