"The human trafficking industry thrives because it's under the radar," says Maggie Bellino, CEO of Southern Arizona Against Slavery (SAAS).
While the number of victims is unknown, more survivors are bringing hope.
"What we are seeing is more survivors around the country being rehabilitated."
It's the first step to end human trafficking not only in Arizona but around the world.
Bellino says there is still work to be done in Southern Arizona and after taking over SAAS seven months ago, the organization is heading in a new direction.
"Trying to figure out where the gaps are in the community are because it's my fear that there are a lot of non-profits in Southern Arizona that are working to eradicate sex trafficking, but we're not working together," says Bellino. "I feel like there really isn't a strong diversion program like they have all over the country."
Bellino identifies diversion programs as homes, rehabilitation and things of that nature.
SAAS has three initiatives:
- Project Raise
Sarah Herndon says being close to the border has an impact and research has shown that typically trafficking rings show consistencies with truck drivers.
Herdon says, "not all truck drivers, but truck drivers are going state to state crossing state lines and getting far in a short time."
Herndon says it's important to know the signs of human trafficking and the differences.
"In society, we have this negative connotation with prostitution and a real misunderstanding with how this comes about and how folks decide to do that," says Herdon.
If you would like to donate to SAAS, click here.
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