Unknown to many, Mississippi is a hot spot for human trafficking because of the major highways that run through it, such as I-10, and the various ports it offers to the public.
When Secretary of State Michael Watson heard this, he set out to raise awareness and save lives. Watson partners with USM to create Mississippi Businesses Against Human Trafficking.
The summit educates people about the tricks used by the perpetrators and how to spot a human trafficking incident.
Other organizations such as the Center for Violence Prevention and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation set up booths to offer resources to attendees. Watson said, “When I was in the Legislature, some people came up to me and said, ‘Look, we want to talk to you about human trafficking,’ and I said, ‘Well, that’s fine, but it’s really in Los Angeles, it’s in Vegas, it’s in New York, it’s not really in Mississippi.’ But they gave me an example of something that happened here in Lincoln County, Mississippi, where a grandfather was dealing with his grandson for drug money. And when I heard that, it really hit me that this is right here in Mississippi. Being the father of three daughters, it’s something I couldn’t just stand by. I had to get busy and work for the state of Mississippi dealing with human trafficking. So it started in the legislature and came to the secretary of state’s office now.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing human trafficking, please call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 or text ‘be free’.