According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, they reported 106 cases of human trafficking in Missouri and had 323 calls. With 412 cases since 2007, it is obvious that human trafficking is an issue that is closer to home than many of us think.

KMZU’s Matt Gang as able to talk with Representative Elijah Haahr from the 134th District in Southeast Missouri. Representative Haahr served as a chairperson for the Human Trafficking Task Force.

Picture from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center

Representative Haahr refers to Missouri as a “gateway state” for human trafficking. With large interstates, such as I-70 reaching across the state, Missouri is a large target for human trafficking. The National Resource Center shows that Kansas City St. Louis, and Springfield is where human trafficking is the most prevalent.

Human Trafficking is not just a problem in metropolitan areas, but rural areas as well. Representative Haahr says, “We have heard so many testimonies from victims who live in a rural area.”

Haahr reminds our listeners that human trafficking also includes labor trafficking which is more prevalent in rural areas.

The Human Trafficking Task Force was terminated on January 1, 2017, but Representative Haahr is confident that their work will continue with Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. There are also new pieces of legislation in process that are focused on putting a stop to human trafficking in our state.

The biggest challenge facing this task is funding according to Representative Haahr.  This funding is crucial to making sure survivors are able to succeed on their own.

For more information about human trafficking in Missouri, visit www.humantraffickinghotline.org.