DES MOINES, Iowa -- On Tuesday, Governor Kim Reynolds announced a new multi-state program aimed at ending human trafficking in the Midwest.
The collaboration between Iowa, Nebraska, and local anti-trafficking organizations will provide training to hotel/motel management and staff on how to identify and report human trafficking.
“We estimate at least 50%, if not much more, of the trafficking that takes place in our region takes place in hotels and motels,” said human trafficking consultant Mike Ferjak.
The training is free, with the hope of widespread compliance.
“Having more eyes and ears in every single corner of our state and every community can help,” said Governor Reynolds.
The program is voluntary, but human trafficking advocates say taking part is a no-brainer.
“It’s a critical link, and any hotel or motel will see the value of being in front of this as opposed to being a place that’s marked as a safe haven,” said Ferjak.
Ferjak says knowing what to look for is important because not everyone fits the stereotype of a human trafficker or a victim of human trafficking.
“The things that happen but don’t seem to have purpose for happening, like repeat visits, or multiple visits, a series of stays in a particular period of time, maybe that is in tangent or in conjunction with a large event that's going on in the area,” said Ferjak.
With Iowa's growth comes larger events, with larger events comes more people, and with more people comes more opportunity for traffickers.
“The root cause is greed. Money. It’s all driven by money and a subculture that accepts treating people, especially women and children, as sex objects,” said Dr. George Belitsos, chairman of the Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking.
Another tool to help slow the world's fastest-growing crime.