TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — In 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) made 2,360 arrests related to human tracking. That's around 600 more arrests than the previous fiscal year.
"It is a common activity that a lot of people don't realize is going on. Human trafficking is very much beneath the surface," said U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Supervisory Special Agent, Tammy Breitzke.
Breitzke works as a special agent for the Tucson sector of Homeland Security Investigations. Part of her job is to prevent situations of human trafficking.
"We see a lot of online activity right now. That's how a lot of the recruitment is done, especially when we're talking about juveniles. They are on all kinds of social media apps. We're seeing traffickers recruit them and advertise them on social media platforms," said Breitzke.
The new Tucson-based nonprofit, Power Over Predators, is helping get that message to parents. Lisa Hansen is leading up the effort as a survivor.
"I didn't want the same life for my boys as I had had, when it came to all the different things that I experienced. I always ask myself, what if someone would have come and talked to me about these very relevant things that I was going through?," said Hansen.
Power Over Predators is focusing on education. Their plan plans to communicate with parents, and their kids, about the dangers and warning signs.
"If we can teach kids how to identify predators online, that's when we've done our job well," said Hansen.
Homeland Security Investigations recommends keeping a close eye on your child's social media and any other technology they may be using to communicate with people outside of trusted friends and family.
"Traffickers are controlling their victims, both on a physical and a mental and emotional level. They will control them. Those are signs that you can look for," said Breitzke.
To report incidents of human trafficking in Tucson and Pima County, call 1-866-347-2423. To reports incidents of human trafficking in other areas of the U.S., call 1-888-373-7888.
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