Rob Spectre, consultant for TWILIO, shared statistics on human trafficking and how students could protect themselves from becoming victims during a recent visit to Skyline.
It wasn’t the usual assembly in the Skyline gym when Rob Spectre, developer network consultant with TWILIO, a California software company, shared some facts and figures on the human trafficking problems in the world. Spectre is using his skills to help teach about human trafficking.
Spectre said those involved in human trafficking try to scare the hell out of their victims.
“Fear drives trafficking,” Spectre said.
They aim at people that are less educated. These are people who are in a variety of situations where they are working involuntarily for no gain. They are compelled to work by force, fraud or coercion, Spectre said.
Victims could be making the shoes the students at Skyline were wearing. They could be with a spouse that is withholding money the other earns. It could be in sex trafficking.
It is a big problem with about 40 million involved in trafficking. People tend to think its global problem in foreign countries but it is a domestic problem, it is a Wichita problem and it is a Great Bend problem, Spectre said.
Human trafficking brings in a lot of money, about $150 billion a year. It doesn’t take a lot of people to make a lot of money in trafficking. One criminal who had just four people was making $250,000 a year.
One problem with human trafficking is how little money it takes to get started. If someone wants to be a drug pusher, they need to invest from $10,000 to $30,000 for the drugs.
In human trafficking, all it takes is a $15 phone and $3 to set up a website on the Internet. Profit from that small investment could be $2,500 from just one person.
Some human trafficking attacks those already in bad situations. One went after people in Covenant House, a nation wide agency providing shelter, food and crisis care for homeless and runaway youth. The person offered them free room and board outside the Covenant House facility. After a couple of weeks of getting free food and clothing, they were told they would have to do something for the person.
Victims can come from any background. The daughter of a police chief in New Jersey, who wanted to help her dad, responded to the wrong job advertisement. Another victim answered a job to apply makeup on models. She became one of 33 victims of the man who was targeting students in community colleges.
One girl got involved after a man offered her a piece of pizza. She was trapped and tried to escape. She eventually climbed outside a building, lost her footing and fell six stories and landed on some construction debris, Spectre said.
One of the men involved in this case said it was a victim less crime. He was convicted and got 50 years to life.
Another problem in human trafficking is getting convictions. Only about four percent of trafficking gets reported and there are always multiple victims. The conviction rate on human trafficking is about 10 percent. With narcotics, the conviction rate is about 80 percent because someone always testifies.
Spectre said much more needs to be done to help get convictions.
“Every state has a long way to go on the trafficking laws,” Spectre said.
Spectre told the students they need to protect themselves. Its happening online and the Internet can be a dangerous place. There are chat rooms in so many sites, people need to be careful what information they provide.
When jobs that look too good to be true start asking for name, address, phone number, social security number, it could lead to another case of human trafficking, Spectre said.
“You have to think,” Spectre said.”They know things you don’t.”
If someone is suspicious about a site, they need to speak up and report it. They need to block those sites as well. If someone is doing something inappropriate with one person, they will do it with another. Talk with parents and law enforcement about sites that are suspicious.
Human trafficking may seem like its not a problem at Skyline but Spectre said it is a local problem.
“It happens to people like you and in places like this,” Spectre said.
Anyone can contact Spectre at 620-682-942 or text a crisis hotline at 686868.