Human trafficking is happening here in Tulare County.
Human trafficking includes both labor and sex trafficking victims; adults and juveniles. It includes those who may be going to our schools or working with us.
In 2016, the Tulare County District Attorney’s (DAs) office reported numerous cases involving human trafficking. Also that year, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department concluded an investigation that led to the identification of 50 victims, women and children, in a sex trafficking ring in Tulare County. The sting, called Operation Baby Face, led to the arrest of three Tulare County men charged with human trafficking. In 2017, the three suspects in this case were convicted. One of the suspects, Antonio Alvarez, 44 of Visalia, was sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading to one count of human trafficking of an adult, six counts of human trafficking of a minor, plus other related child abuse charges.
The effort to prevent and stop human trafficking is being led by the Tulare County Human Trafficking Task Force, which includes these agencies as well as other entities, such as Tulare County Child Welfare Services, Family Services of Tulare County, and other entities that are doing training, outreach, and services to address commercial sexual exploitation of children.
we need you.
We need the community to be informed and be the eyes and ears that may spot possible trafficking victims.
January is National Human Trafficking and Slavery Awareness month. Take action.
Please visit and share our Human Trafficking Resources page for information and resources regarding human trafficking and links to our partners. Get more information on the human trafficking pages for the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office and Family Services of Tulare County.
So how can you get involved?
1. Learn the signs of potential trafficking.
Sometimes, simply knowing what “feels off” or might be human trafficking has led people to get help that has resulted in a victim being freed. If you suspect human trafficking, use the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 888-373-7888 to seek help.
Some of these signs include
- not getting paid for their labor
- not free to change employers
- being controlled by someone else
- being forced to do something they don’t want to do
- has been cheated into payment of debt upon arrival
Among potential victims of commercial sexual exploitation of children (child sex trafficking) might be these signs:
- Has unexplained absences from school for a period of time, and is therefore truant
- Demonstrates an inability to attend school on a regular basis
- Chronically runs away from home
- Makes references to frequent travel to other cities
- Exhibits bruises or other physical trauma, withdrawn behavior, depression, or fear
- Lacks control over her or his schedule or identification documents
- Is hungry-malnourished or inappropriately dressed (based on weather conditions or surroundings)
- Shows signs of drug addiction
Additional signs that may indicate sex-related trafficking include:
- Demonstrates a sudden change in attire, behavior, or material possessions (e.g., has expensive items)
- Makes references to sexual situations that are beyond age-specific norms
- Has a “boyfriend” who is noticeably older (10+ years)
- Makes references to terminology of the commercial sex industry that are beyond age-specific norms; engages in promiscuous behavior and may be labeled “fast” by peers
2. Save the National Human Trafficking Hotline number in your phone: 888-373-7888.
The hotline is run by the leading human trafficking organization Polaris Project. Please call if you suspect trafficking, if you are a victim, or you simply need information. The hotline will provide the help and information you need wherever you are. Or text “Help” or “Info” to BeFree (233733). The National Human Trafficking Hotline also has a chatline on its website for those seeking help and information. Share the website and the numbers with others.
One example:: A person who worked with a human trafficking organization in Fresno recalled to us that she spoke to a woman who had gone through their human trafficking training and saved the hotline number. The woman shared that she encountered a situation with someone she knew that raised red flags and she recalled the signs she learned. She used the number saved in her phone to get help and helped thwart a potential trafficking attempt.
3. Watch and share Chosen and Chosen Gang Edition.
These short videos are designed to provide valuable prevention education for youth and adults. The video can be purchased at sharedhope.org. Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council also provides screenings of the videos. Call TCCAPC at (559) 735-0456 for more information.
4. Schedule a speaker to give a presentation or provide training for your group or workplace.
The Tulare County Human Trafficking Task Force provides training with speakers from the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, Family Services of Tulare County, and Child Welfare Services. See more information and contact details.
5. Wear navy blue on January 11
January 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign, an effort to prevent trafficking and increase rescues, is inviting people to build awareness by wearing blue. Do you have your favorite piece of blue clothing ready for #WearBlueDay on January 11? Show your support by wearing blue and posting a photo of yourself, friends, family, and colleagues on social media with #WearBlueDay and #WeWearBlueBecause #TCCAPC. Tag @tularecountycapc on Instragram, Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council on Facebook, and TC_CAPC on Twitter to connect your followers with TCCAPC. Tell your followers why you wear blue and continue the conversation about how we can end trafficking.
6. Check out the Blue Campaign and National Human Trafficking Hotline websites
The Blue Campaign is the unified voice for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to combat human trafficking. Working in collaboration with law enforcement, government, non-governmental and private organizations, the Blue Campaign strives to protect the basic right of freedom and to bring those who exploit human lives to justice.
Their website provides a wealth of resources to equip you in whatever sector of the community you are in including:
- Information on what human trafficking is and how to identify a victim.
- Resources that include awareness and training videos, and and in-depth library of information and outreach materials to view, print, or order FREE
- Support for law enforcement and other assistance
The website for the National Human Trafficking Hotline, run by Polaris Project also has a wealth of information and resources for professionals and community members.
7. Help get human trafficking outreach posters up in locations around your community.
On January 11, Tulare County Task Force members and volunteers plans to distribute human trafficking resource posters to hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts throughout Tulare County. The Task Force plans to do more outreach to connect with all businesses required to hang these posters.
As of January 1, hotels and other lodging establishments have been added to the businesses required by law, pursuant to Senate Bill 225, to hang awareness posters aimed at helping victims to recognize that they are being trafficked and how to get help. Other businesses include airports, urgent care centers and emergency rooms, truck stops and roadside rest areas, bus stations, rail stations, adult/sexually oriented businesses, privately operated job recruitment centers, businesses that offer massage, and farm labor contractors. However, these posters can be posted anywhere.
These posters could provide lifesaving information to a trafficking victim. To join a poster outreach team on Thursday or in the future, contact Stacy Plantier at the Tulare County DAs Office at (559) 636-5494. The community is also welcome to take or print posters to post in other locations.
8. Join in a mass social media campaign through the Blue Campaign
After you’ve learned about human trafficking signs (see above) pledge to show your support by joining @BlueCampaign’sThunderclap! This is a single message that will be mass-shared, flash mob-style on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up here for the message to automatically post to your account(s)! http://bit.ly/2iYgVTq
9. Follow and support local efforts
On Facebook, follow Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council for posts throughout the month. Also follow the Tulare County Human Trafficking Task Force, Family Services of Tulare County, Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, and Central Valley Against Human Trafficking.Find these agencies on Twitter.
10. Share! Share! Share!
Don’t just check out the useful websites and pages we have included in this blog, share them! Share on your social media. Email them and talk about them with your colleagues or classmates, family members, and friends. Share posts you find useful on social media.
Have other ideas, events, and suggestions? Share in the comments.