Experts give hospitality workers warning signs to combat human trafficking

Human trafficking crimes often take place in hotels.

FARGO, N.D. — According to authorities, sex trafficking is the second largest crime economy in the country.

The dangerous incidents often take place in hotels.

“We get the majority of our tips from the hospitality industry,” said West Fargo police Detective Derek Werner. “If it is somebody from out of town, if it is a runaway, runaways are going to go stay at hotels.”

Local law enforcement and the North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force addressed those in this line of work to make them aware of what signs to look out for while on the job.

There is a long list of indicators that someone may be a victim of this crime. That includes guests asking to pay for rooms in cash, requesting rooms by exit doors or refusing cleaning services for multiple days in a row.

Those in trouble may also act strange out of fear.

“These victims are very scared. They are going to look scared. They are going to act scared,” explained Werner. “They are not going to look at you. They are not going to want to look at you. They feel ashamed for what is going on. They are going to avoid those social interactions.  Everything that is going to come out of their mouth is going to sound rehearsed.”

Panelists say to be on red alert especially when there is a big event in the area that draws in a lot guests.

“It can be there is a hockey tournament for high school boys in town,” said Melissa Kaiser, a member of the task force. “Any increase in population in our community is going to bring an increase of people purchasing sex.”

These crimes do not just occur in big cities, but happen all over the state. Victims can be of any age, race or ethnicity.

In 2019, there were 51 tips of sex trafficking reported in North Dakota. The best way to stop them is to know what to watch out for.

Categories: Business, Community, Crime, Local News, North Dakota News