South Bay News

SJ airport workers trained to spot trafficking

Thursday, January 23, 2014
San Jose Airport crime prevention Sex sting

A major Bay Area airport is joining a growing effort to stop human trafficking, one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. Mineta San Jose International Airport is partnering with a coalition that includes Congressman Mike Honda.

Experts estimate 20,000 people are trafficked into the United States every year and often times that through an airport.

Congressman Mike Honda got straight to the point:

"We value freedom and therefore must be compelled to protect it and that's why we're here today," said Honda.

Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises because of the billions of dollars it generates in profits. And one of the easiest ways to move people is through the airports. That's why airline ambassadors and the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition are at Mineta San Jose International Airport today to train workers on how to spot victims.

"By training flight attendants and airline personnel you're increasing the eyes and ears by thousands. We estimate that the people we trained can scan a million people this year," said Nancy Rivard, Airline Ambassadors International.

Organizers say signs of human trafficking at an airport include a person not having the usual items when checking in or boarding a flight. Not being able to speak for themselves, or not having the freedom to separate from another person. And it's not just international flights, experts say more people are actually moved within the United States, with the Bay Area a popular destination.

"What's happening is pimps and traffickers are taking advantage of that and saying hey come to California it's the land of promise. And instead of coming here for viable work and legitimate work, they're actually showing up and then being exploited for their labor," said Betty Ann Boeving, Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition.

SFO held a similar training session last March. The goal is to get all Bay Area airports trained to spot human trafficking by 2016. That's because the Super Bowl will be held at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara attracting a huge number of visitors.

"They do things that they wouldn't normally do at home. And what we're seeing is that traffic victims get moved from around the country to be ready for an increase in demand for entertainment for services for prostitution around these large sporting events," said Betty Ann Boeving, Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition

The focus for the Super Bowl isn't just on airports. Organizers at the airport say they're also going to help train people in the hotel and restaurant industries.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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mineta san jose international airport, crime, south bay news, matt keller
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