The frontline of preventing human trafficking is on our roads each day

How nonprofit Truckers Against Trafficking empowers people to spot red flags during their daily routines, during National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and all year-round.

By Sarah Murry — January 26, 2023

In the past month, Interpol nabbed a criminal described as one of “the world’s most wanted” human traffickers in Sudan, and in the US, the FBI rescued more than twenty migrants from a Ft. Worth, Texas-area smuggling ring.

These arrests hardly make national headlines because they’re so common. That’s part of the reason why US President Joe Biden proclaimed January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, which aims to raise awareness about this global issue.

Another reason: Human trafficking is a crime that happens in plain sight, says Laura Cyrus, senior director of industry training and outreach, Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT). TAT partners with logistics companies, fleet operators, and the corporations whose goods they ship across the country to train drivers and related personnel to spot the signs of trafficking. To date, more than 1.5 million industry professionals have viewed one of the TAT training videos.

Truckers and delivery drivers are “the eyes and ears” of the nation’s roads, Cyrus says. They criss-cross the country and can be a first line of defense to spot potential crimes in action, whether it’s forced labor, migrant smuggling, or sex trafficking. 

“We are trying to educate people about what to look for and to spot red flags, and then report it,” she explains.

HP has partnered with TAT since 2016, and today is among the corporate sponsors of the organization’s work. The company helps support video training programs for drivers and printed materials such as window decals and wallet cards, with the end goal of assisting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.

As a next step, HP plans to offer a TAT awareness session to some of its supply chain employees starting this year, explains Jessica Kipp, global head of supply chain markets & logistics at HP.

“We all can play a role in helping to identify and report human trafficking. The TAT trainings provide valuable and actionable information that is relevant beyond the carrier community,” Kipp says. 

Bill Brady, an ambassador for TAT and career truck driver, standing in front of the grill of a Peterbilt truck.

Truckers Against Trafficking; Marquee illustration by Noma Bar

Bill Brady, an ambassador for TAT, has been a truck driver for nearly three decades. He recently came off the road to be a recruiter for Versatile Transport in Clearwater, Minnesota.

Trafficking on the rise

“Trafficking in persons,” “human trafficking,” and “modern slavery” are umbrella terms — often used interchangeably — to refer to crimes in which perpetrators  exploit and profit at the expense of adults or children by compelling them to perform labor or engage in commercial sex. US State Department statistics estimate that more than 28 million people — adults and children — are subjected to human trafficking around the world.  

Humanitarian disasters and other global challenges, such as those brought on by the pandemic, armed conflict, and climate-change related crises, exacerbate human trafficking. 

TAT offers video-based trainings (many of which take less than 30 minutes to complete) for different categories of drivers, including over-the-road transport (long-haul routes that require staying overnight at a truck stop or rest area); in-home delivery drivers (such as furniture movers or someone who might install a new appliance or device in your home); and local pickup and delivery services (rideshare drivers, postal workers, food delivery, or Amazon and UPS).

 This crime “isn’t just happening at truck stops and rest locations, it’s happening everywhere,” Cyrus says. “It’s not just truckers that can help combat it.”

Activating the supply chain

HP, as part of its ambition to be the most sustainable and just technology company, is committed to fighting human trafficking and forced labor as outlined in several governing documents, including the HP Human Rights PolicySupplier Code of ConductPartner Code of Conduct, and Modern Slavery Transparency Statement.

 “This crime is so much more prevalent than we want to believe, and it’s not just truckers that can help combat it.”

— Laura Cyrus, Senior Director of Industry Training and Outreach, TAT


In addition, HP provides resources to suppliers, such as training and other tools, like those from TAT. Many of the company’s long-haul trucking partners are already part of Truckers Against Trafficking (including UPS, FedEx, and Ryder). This year, HP plans to roll out the training to short-haul and local trucking carriers, which pick up shipping containers from ports and deliver them to HP warehouses.  

 “We strongly encourage our US carriers to complete the Truckers Against Trafficking training. The majority of our top US long-haul carriers are members of TAT, which is a tremendous help in this effort,” says Kipp. “These logistics providers can be a critical frontline defense  to stop the human trafficking crisis.”

Another part of Cyrus’ work involves busting some of the myths around human trafficking, such as the belief that these crimes always begin with some kind of kidnapping. In fact, most victims know their trafficker — often they are family members, intimate partners, or people they have been communicating with online. 

For example, if you see people who appear to have a lack of knowledge about their whereabouts or are traveling with someone who speaks for them, restricts their ability to communicate, and/or controls their identifying information (such as ID or passport) — it’s wise to report this suspicious activity to local law enforcement, or if in the US, to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

“We all live in neighborhoods and in communities,” says TAT’s Cyrus. “It’s up to us to be on the lookout.”


READ MORE: Human Rights Day: How anyone can make a difference