NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Since its inception, the North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force served around 760 victims of human trafficking in our state.
There are several types of human trafficking and North Dakota deals with a lot of them.
“I learned that there is such thing as labor trafficking. I have never heard of it. I didn’t really know it was a thing. I had no idea people could be coerced like that and withheld their legal documentation,” said Ryan Delichte, an attendee.
Human trafficking takes many forms but many fall under sex trafficking, labor trafficking, and debt bondage.
For labor trafficking, using immigration and legal papers as a weapon is a sign of it. It’s also the most common form of trafficking in North Dakota.
“I was actually surprised that sex trafficking was not the most common form of trafficking. I thought that it is one of the only if not the most common forms of trafficking,” said Delichte.
Sarah Johnston, a central navigator for the North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force, says those who are vulnerable to trafficking are those who need love, income, want romantic relationships, and wants to better their circumstance.
She also mentions some vulnerabilities and risk factors including mental illness, gang involvement, intellectual disability, familial rejection, homelessness, and more.
“Preventing any vulnerability is a big one. So supporting those organizations that are serving the vulnerable people in our community. Supporting the homeless. Anything that is supporting mental health awareness that is supporting homelessness, food, drug addiction,” said Johnston
Some myths of trafficking, according to Johnston, are that not all victims are children.
Most forced labor victims are adults, and sex trafficking involves both adults and children.
83% of victims the Task Force served have been North Dakota residents. And 17% have been from Minot between January 2016 and June 2023.
“I will say typically when there is more people, there is more people being trafficked. So our larger areas probably have more people being trafficked but that is just a larger population and what happens,” said Johnston.
Trafficking can happen to anyone anywhere says Johnston and it is mainly all about coercion.
If you see something that looks like trafficking, contact law enforcement immediately. Human traffickers are always moving, so it’s best to act fast.