HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Administrative Offices of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) released new data on human trafficking in the commonwealth, highlighting areas across the state where numbers show the crime is most prominent.
According to AOPC, Lancaster County has the highest number of human trafficking offenses filed from 2017 through 2021. In May of 2022, Lancaster District Attorney Heather Adams said major highways and hotels — which can make it easier to transport and recruit victims — are partially to blame for that.
Though not specifically speaking to the Lancaster County statistics, Pennsylvania State Police echoed Adams’ claim at a Thursday press conference aimed at combatting human trafficking.
“We see a lot of criminal activity associated with a lot of the interstates that run through Pennsylvania and go through city to city,” Lt. Adam Reed, Director of the Pennsylvania State Police Communications Office said. “These interstates allow for a very quick connection and direct route.”
Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received over 7,700 reports in Pennsylvania alone.
“These numbers just reinforce how much concerned citizens can do if they know what to do, what to look for, and who to contact,” PennDOT Secretary of Transportation Yassmin Gramian said.
According to the Wolf Administration, potential warning signs of human trafficking could include:
- lack of knowledge of a person’s community or whereabouts;
- restricted or controlled communication where people cannot speak for themselves;
- people not in control of their own identification documents; or
- signs of branding or tattooing of a trafficker’s name (often on the neck).
Anyone who suspects human or labor trafficking is urged to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.