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Montana officials release PSA warning of human trafficking

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(The Center Square) – Montana officials are warning people about the dangers of human trafficking and how to identify and report suspected cases.

Attorney General Austin Knudsen, whose office put out the public service announcement, says ending human trafficking is a top priority.

“At the Montana Department of Justice, we are increasing our investigations and committed to holding human traffickers accountable,” Knudsen said in a press release.

The attorney general’s office says possible signs of human trafficking include young people who are hesitant to engage in conversation or make eye contact, people with difficulty responding to questions about their name or location, people wearing clothing that don’t match the climate, and people accompanied by “a dominating person or someone they seem fearful of” at the time.

In addition to dialing 1-833-406-STOP, the attorney general’s office recommends people use their cellphones to take pictures of the suspected traffickers, victims, and vehicle license plates, if possible.

“Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery whereby traffickers, which are often organized criminal enterprises, profit at the expense of adults or children by compelling them to perform labor or engage in commercial sex,” the attorney general’s office said. “It is estimated that human trafficking generates $150 billion worldwide per year. Montana Department of Justice human trafficking investigators initiated 64 cases in fiscal year 2022, an increase of 300 percent from 16 in the previous fiscal year.”

Prosecutor Selene Koepke, Division of Criminal Investigation Administrator Bryan Lockerby, and Colonel Steven Lavin of the Montana Highway Patrol joined the attorney general in the PSA.

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