H.H Investigates

published : 2023-08-24

America's Truckers Rise Up Against Human Trafficking

Nonprofit Partners With Trucking Groups to Strengthen Defense Against Human Trafficking

An image of a long-haul trucker at the wheel, silhouetted against a sunrise. Capturing a moment of contemplation before the day's journey unfolds. Taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Bob Bramwell, an experienced trucker, never believed he would encounter human trafficking in his local and seemingly innocent setting of small town America, especially when he began receiving training for just such incidents. His perception quickly shifted when, only fifty miles from his home, he found a young woman alone on a desolate rural road. Acting on his training, Bramwell was able to identify the signs of distress in the woman’s voice and appearance, prompting him to act.

Inside his car with his family, besides the lonely crossroads, he could sense her anxiety as he interacted with her. To put her at ease, he turned on the dome light of his car to show he was with family. His soft demeanor and assurance that evening were enough to get the young woman into the car and away from imminent danger.

Disoriented, the victim could not discern her location when Bramwell found her. But as the night wore on and trust built, her heart-wrenching story unfurled. She had been kept captive, drugged, and violated for more than a month. Her child was held hostage in an unknown location. Her fear of retaliation from her captors had imprisoned her, making her hesitant to involve law enforcement and seek help.

A shot highlighting the solitude of a desolate rural road. Use shallow focus to draw attention to an object symbolizing hope, like a small flower growing amidst the barren surroundings. Taken with a Nikon D850.

Bramwell's employer, ABF Freight System, had previously set up the training he received through Truckers Against Trafficking, a nonprofit organization focusing on battling human trafficking. Over the past decade, this organization has trained more than 1.5 million professionals across the trucking, bus, and energy sectors. Their initiative also extends to associations such as the American Trucking Association detailing how to identify 'red flags' of human trafficking while on the road.

Bramwell admitted that the training opened his eyes to the reality of these unthinkable situations. He learned how to spot abnormal occurrences, such as individuals in unexpected locations or strange vans carrying groups of young women through parking lots. This keen sense of observation and alertness strengthened his resolve to save lives.

According to data collected by the National Human Trafficking Hotline and analyzed by the Polaris Project, about 16,554 victims were identified in 10,359 reported trafficking situations in 2021 alone. Unfortunately, high transportation areas become hubs for these crimes, exploiting the vulnerability of individuals to the maximum.

A close-up of a pair of hands holding a Truckers Against Trafficking badge. Emphasize the strength and determination in the weathered hands, representing their stand against the inhumanity of trafficking. Taken with a Sony Alpha 7R III.

Despite his phenomenal act of bravery, Bramwell refused to accept the label of a hero. He believes that the awareness and willingness to help comes from the realization that these victims could be someone's daughter, a loved one, or a friend. They are individuals forced into horrific circumstances against their will. He's satisfied that his actions have allowed at least one person to now live her life freely. Bramwell continues to be vigilant and still looks for warning signs of trafficking, helping to tackle this global issue one stop at a time.