GROESBECK, TX — Central Texas is in the middle of a human trafficking triangle that runs between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. That includes our rural communities.
Just off the exits of I-35 are small towns that can be a big haven for human traffickers in both the labor and sex trade.
"We'd like to think that proximity is protection. That if we're not near a major city or major highway, that our community is safer," said Jessica Sykora of Unbound. "What we've learned working with survivors is that trafficking really is happening everywhere in our community."
Unbound Waco and Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition spent hours at the Groesbeck Convention Center Friday to train law enforcement, prosecutors and citizens on what to look for.
"There's so much misinformation. The white panel vans and people being tied up with rope. While that does happen, it is a small percentage of the cases, and so it creates an environment where our citizens are looking for the wrong thing. Educating them on what to look for to me is the most important thing," said McLennan County Sheriff's Office Detective Joseph Scaramucci.
Because of technology, trafficking is now decentralized.
"It is all around us, and education is key," said Limestone County Sheriff Dennis Wilson.
The training also addresses intervention and protecting those most vulnerable from becoming victims.
"We need all the eyes and ears we can get. What better than for our neighbors to alert us for what to look for to better perform our job," said Sheriff Wilson.
If you would like the training to come to your county, contact the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition.