BOZEMAN — January marked National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and the Gallatin County Human Trafficking Task Force says just because you’re not seeing it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
“We do have reports of human trafficking in Gallatin County. Often times the most visible human trafficking form is sex trafficking. It’s just easier to spot,” said Tara Bradford, chair of the task force.
“Traffickers advertise their victims online and through social media apps and whatnot.”
Bradford says human trafficking in Gallatin County is a growing problem. And points to awareness as being one reason why.
“I would say on a whole you see an increase because as people learn more about how to recognize human trafficking, there’s more reporting. So that provides the opportunity for law enforcement to respond to calls that community members make when they see something that looks suspicious,” said Bradford.
When it comes to breaking it down to the numbers and statistics, Bradford says it’s tough at this point.
“This is an issue that’s just getting ground here in Gallatin County. We’re working as a task force on understanding what this actually looks like,” said Bradford.
Bradford says the task force has entered into a partnership with professors and students from Montana State University to dig deeper into the numbers.
“We’re working on a research study to dive into what that actually looks like and so we’re hoping to be able to share that with the community more specifically,” she said.
Human trafficking has its own red flags, showing itself in different ways and behaviors.
The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office says awareness is the first line of defense against trafficking and law enforcement should always be called if something looks off.
“There’s a lot of law enforcement and community-based groups who are interested and know that this exists and want to come together in a collaborative effort to address the issue,” said Bradford.
You can learn more about human trafficking in Gallatin County and the Gallatin County Human Trafficking Taskforce by clicking here. More information about human trafficking in Montana can be found here. The Montana Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached at 1-888-373-7888.