OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY)- Each year, thousands of people fall victim to human trafficking in the United States. That’s not including the thousands more that go unreported.
Now, the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office is shedding light on the issue.
News 10’s sat down with Sheriff Bobby Guidroz. He tells us that Louisiana saw a 52% increase in human trafficking in the past years.
In fact, he says, there were 755 cases of human trafficking in the state in 2018 alone.
“Human trafficking involves the exploitation of persons who are used for sex or forced labor. And we want our people to know that it’s very possible that it can happen here,” explained the sheriff.
He says says human trafficking is far more common than people think. “Human trafficking is the third-largest criminal activity in this country behind armed trades and drug trades,” Guidroz said. “It’s the third largest criminal enterprise. Most people in the heart of Cajun Country would think that we would never see that in Acadiana, but we do.”
Guidroz say it’s easy to think of human trafficking as only one thing. “We just want everyone to know, just don’t think of it as a sexual crime where people are kidnapped for use in sexual activity,” the sheriff said.
“It could be used in forced labor. It could happen in homes, it could happen in domestic services, it could happen on a farm– agriculture.”
Unfortunately, Guidroz says local law enforcement agencies sometimes find it difficult to fight human trafficking. “Our budgets can’t sustain that kind of continuous investigation. And we have no public funding for those types of investigations.”
That’s why he says public knowledge of the issue is so important. Guidroz says he hope with more awareness of human trafficking spread throughout the community, people will report more cases and those victims will be helped out of this form of modern-day slavery.
He adds that extra funding from the federal government, for human trafficking specifically, would go a long way to help solve these cases.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at:1 (888) 373-7888
You can also text “HELP” or “INFO” to SMS: 233733