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Feds Say Human Trafficking Increases During Detroit Auto Show; Public Should Know Warning Signs

"If you see something suspicious, say something"

January 17, 2019 - 5:18 pm

DETROIT (WWJ) -- The FBI and Detroit Police Department are asking for the public to be vigilant during the upcoming North American International Auto Show, as officials say the risk of human trafficking skyrockets during the show.

Human trafficking cases increase by 280 to 330 percent during the auto show, according to the FBI.

Detroit City Council president Brenda Jones, who called a joint press conference with the FBI and DPD on Thursday, asking people to be on the lookout for young girls who are victims of human trafficking.

If you see something suspicious, say something: that's the message officials are trying to spread ahead of the NAIAS.

“A lot of the human trafficking began from young girls on their iPads, on their computers and they start that way," Jones said. "A lot of it begins when young girls are out with their friends and they are attracted by things such as gym shoes and things, gifts that people give them.”

The FBI says trafficking instances increase during large events like the auto show because of the large influx of people in one area. Two years ago during the NAIAS a sting operation busted a human trafficking ring, resulting in more than a dozen arrests and the rescues of multiple victims.

Harriet Cammock of the Exodus Foundation, which provides services to sex trade victims, says the best way to prevent human trafficking is to know the signs of a potential victim.

“When you see someone who’s dressed inappropriately for the time of day, for the event, for the venue, that’s usually someone who is at risk," Cammock said. "People who are being trafficked do not say, ‘hey, I’m being trafficked, help me.’ They cannot do so because they’re at great risk.”

“When you see young girls, they look – we all have children or are exposed to children, we all know what 12-to-14-year-olds look like – when you see them with an older person and they seem to be afraid to speak up or their body language indicates that something is amiss; if it doesn’t feel right, trust me, it probably doesn’t.”

The North American International Auto Show opens to the public on Saturday at Cobo Center in Downtown Detroit.