The Gem Show is just beginning, but with the thousands of people coming into town to see the exhibits, also comes a spike in sex trafficking.
Every night in Tucson, between 75 to 100 young women who are being sold for sex. TPD is working with the UA to stop human trafficking and help victims in our area.
A $1.5M grant from the Department of Justice is helping the Tucson Police Department get more resources to crack down on human traffickers and CODAC Health Recovery & Wellness to assist victims in getting services. Both work to educate the community to spot victims of exploitation, especially at these crowded events. The project is called the Southern Arizona Anti-Trafficking Unified Response Network, or SAATURN.
There are signals the researchers want the public to know about so they can help report potential victims including:
A young woman with a much older man
Someone deliberately avoiding eye contact
Someone who works excessively long or unusual hours
Someone with few or no personal possessions
Someone acting especially anxious or paranoid
There are so many warning signs to recognize the traffickers too. You'll notice the trafficker, "not leaving them [the victim] alone at any time, they will put audio recorders on cell phones, they will call and check in, so some pretty controlling tactics to make sure they are keeping track of what they view as their property," said Candace Black a senior research specialist for the Southwest Institute for Research on Women.
Researchers say there's a very quick window for someone to report a sighting before the victim is moved, so if you see something suspicious, report it immediately to TPD.