Local, state and international leaders all joined forces in Zachary for a three-day summit focused on combating human trafficking. The Louisiana Summit on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking brought government officials, law enforcement, church leaders and non-profit organizations together to look at what is being done to fight the growing problem and what areas could be improved.
Father Jeff Bayhi, the founder of Metanoia home for human trafficking victims in Baton Rouge, spoke to the prevalence of the problem.
“It’s a huge problem in Baton Rouge. I-10 between Houston and New Orleans is the worst trafficking area in the entire United States,” Bayhi said.
There is a growing caseload of human trafficking cases in the state of Louisiana.
“Our stats each year have increased. Last year, Louisiana State Police alone investigated over 60 cases involving human trafficking throughout the state of Louisiana,” Louisiana State Police Special Victims Unit Lieutenant Chad Gremillion said.
At the summit, event participants talked about these statistics and brainstormed ways to decrease the number of victims. Joining in on the conversation was Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, sent to the summit by Pope Francis.
“I came here on behalf of Pope Francis because the more important thing for Pope Francis in the globalized world today is to give freedom, justice and happiness to all people,” Sorondo said.
The tree-day summit wrapped up Wednesday.