The Greenville Rotary is continuing its efforts to raise awareness of the extent of human trafficking in Hunt County and the surrounding area.
An informational meeting was held July 13 concerning the creation of a separate organization dedicated to addressing the issue. The club’s Katy Ridge was the speaker for the event, which developed following a weekly meeting of the Greenville Rotary.
Ridge said the session was designed to reach out to segments of the community which could help make a difference.
“I want the people in our community that are actually in a position to see something and to say something, I want them to come and hear this,” Ridge said.
The organization would be focused on spreading awareness of how to recognize human trafficking and how to respond when it is taking place.
Ridge invited representatives with Court Appointed Special Advocates, the Hunt County Children’s Advocacy Center, the Raffa Clinic and local law enforcement to offer their perspectives.
“I started hearing stories about what these different groups had already seen here in our community,” Ridge said, noting that the various agencies contacted indicated they had received little information about available resources in dealing with the problem.
“Some of them had a few resources, some of them had none and some of them had no idea what to look for,” she added.
What was certain is human trafficking does occur in Hunt County.
“It is in our back yard, said Kristi Glass with the Poiema Foundation, a Rockwall-based nonprofit organization and ministry dedicated to the awareness of and fight against sex trafficking and the assistance to the victims.
Glass said the agency operates a safe house in the Dallas area where it offers a variety of services to victims and is also offering an outreach program in Greenville which monitors hotels in the vicinity where human trafficking is suspected.
The image of a girl being snatched off the streets is not realistic.
“Only five percent of the victims of human trafficking are abducted,” Glass said.
The victims of human trafficking are often found operating in massage parlors, in pornography or at through prostitution at hotels and motels.
Bo Radney with the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office said the department is part of an eight-county task force in North Texas dedicated to tackling smuggling, drugs and related enforcement. Radney explained much of the activity is connected to the spread of methamphetamine trafficking across the region.
“A lot of this is cartel-related,” he said. “They are in Hunt County and the are in Greenville.”
A video of the complete presentation is available online at https://tinyurl.com/9ystewv4
• Additional information about the Poiema Foundation is available at the organization’s web site at www.poiemafoundation.org
* The National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888 or tet “Be Free 23 3733
* The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: 1-800-843-5678 / www.missingkids.com