Hidalgo Highlights Signs of Human Trafficking

(This is the second part in our series on human trafficking.)

The signs of human trafficking are often less extravagant yet no less serious than people imagine.


The Child and Youth Human Trafficking Coordinator, Maci Hidalgo, wants to inform the public of how human trafficking presents itself. There is no one-size-fits-all, and one form can look drastically different from another.


“That’s why it’s so hard to identify,” said Hidalgo. “It’s not like the movie ‘Taken’.”


While it is possible for a person to be nabbed off the street, Hidalgo said, the signs for human trafficking are often more subtle. Victims of human trafficking can each react to their situation differently, but some signs to watch out for are: withdrawl, fearful of law enforcement, and unwillingness to give out information (such as address or phone number). These symptoms can be very similar to abuse, said Hidalgo.


Some visible markers to look for are: signs of physical abuse, burns, cuts, tattoos or brands.


The forms of perpetrator can vary as well. There is the aggressive form, one who uses violence to control the victim. The “Romeo,” said Hidalgo, who grooms his victim with a shower of gifts until he or she learns what the victim lacks to leverage against them. And also a form of perpetrator who seeks out victims who cannot provide for themselves, often having run away from home or the law, and uses food or shelter to coerce the victim into compliance.


“They prey on the vulnerable… The grooming aspect can sometimes take up to 2 or three years,” said Hidalgo. “Sometimes they even recruit one girl and use her to recruit all the others.”


The Louisiana Revised Statue for human trafficking is La R. S. 24:46.2. It states: “For any person to knowingly recruit, harbor, transport, provide, solicit, receive, isolate, entice, obtain, or maintain the use of another person through fraud, force, or coercion to provide services or labor.”


“For any person to knowingly recruit, harbor, transport, provide, solicit, sell, purchase, receive, isolate, entice, obtain, or maintain the use of a person under the age of twenty-one years for the purpose of engaging in commercial sexual activity regardless of whether the person was recruited, harbored, transported, provided, solicited, sold, purchased, received, isolated enticed, obtained, or maintained through fraud, force, or coercion.”


The rest of the statute can be viewed here: “https://legis.la.gov/Legis/Law.aspx?d=320889”