MN trucking company, Klobuchar work to combat human trafficking

A Minnesota trucking company is now leading the way to help fight human trafficking.

Dart Transit, based out of Eagan, is training its drivers and warehouse workers to recognize the signs of trucks and trailers that may be smuggling immigrants, often victims of human trafficking.

Now, the senate is pressing for more trucking companies to hop on board. Because truckers drive millions of miles each year, they witness more than most.

"It's everywhere. There is really nowhere you're going to go as a truck driver that it isn't going to be right there," said trucker Bev Monahan.

Monahan recollects one case involving a young teen.

“She couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15 years old,” she said.

Now, companies such as Dart are using videos to train their drivers on what to look for. According to Russ Moore with Dart, truckers should look for things that may be out of place, such as a young person getting out of a truck with an older person or “things that just don’t look like they fit with the situation.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar wants to take the effort national, authoring a bill that’s headed to the Senate floor. The bill would create a human trafficking prevention coordinator at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“What this is about is setting a standard nationally so that our truckers know that this is something that our government and our citizens stand behind,” Klobuchar said. “That is, they are the front lines for all of us, and when they call something in, that's a good thing for America." 

The renewed awareness comes after 10 immigrants suffocated in a hot trailer last month in San Antonio, Texas. The trailer contained as many as 100 people who were possibly smuggled from Mexico.

Witnesses are also unsure whether it's labor trafficking or sex trafficking that's driving through smaller communities such as St. Cloud.

"I-94 runs right through our city,” said St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson. “That's a major interstate in this country, and again, millions of miles are logged on those highways...unfortunately, St. Cloud is another stop."

For truckers, the roads are their neighborhoods. So are the way sides and truck stops where their open eyes can lead to a phone call and become a valuable tip for law enforcement to get help for the victims.