PUEBLO — While crimes like burglary or a shooting are fairly "obvious" according to the Pueblo Police Department - human trafficking is not as noticeable.
Over the past several weeks, PPD has frequently been posting on their social media outlets to raise awareness about human trafficking, part of a statewide campaign being lead by Colorado's Human Trafficking Council.
"It's basically to increase awareness and let people know the signs and indications of human trafficking, so that they can assist victims and victims can realize that there's help out there," said Sergeant Frank Ortega, Public Information Officer for the Pueblo Police Department.
Recently the PPD has been implementing more extensive training and certifications, so their officers may be better prepared to detect and take care of cases involving human trafficking. The police are not the only ones in Pueblo taking charge to combat this crime. Pueblo's Alliance to Combat Human Trafficking (ACHT) is a group that provides resources to survivors of human trafficking. One group member, Mona Klein, said the group was formed among the realization that there was not another advocacy group for human trafficking in the area. According to Klein, most situations of human trafficking stem from a victim's co-dependency.
"Many times trafficking starts, not as somebody grabbed off the streets, but rather a friendship - a sort of fake friendship built... 'If you're my friend you'll do this for me... If you love me you'll do this for me.'" said Klein.
Klein also claims that most people who fall victim to human trafficking in the first place are homeless or involved in drug abuse, looking for an escape.
"They'll start looking for that magic opportunity to better their lives, that oftentimes doesn't turn out to be that magic opportunity," said Klein.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 176 cases of human trafficking were reported in Colorado for the year of 2019. If you or a loved one is falling victim to human trafficking, the hot number is 1-888-373-7888. Other resources include: