New App Aims to Catch Criminals Involved in Human Trafficking - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: |

New App Aims to Catch Criminals Involved in Human Trafficking

By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN - Sex trafficking is here in the Basin. Local FBI says the industry has morphed to business on the Internet. But now, there's an app to help catch these criminals and to try and rescue exploited children.

The FBI says human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery, but one app called Redlight Traffic, is working to end this sex crime for good.

"It's gone from prostitutes walking the streets to going online, where the community generally doesn't see that," Troy Murdock, Supervisory Senior Resident Agent for Midland FBI, said.

Just Tuesday, 56 ads for adult escorts popped up online in the Midland/Odessa area. The Internet is now where sex trafficking criminals are taking their business. These victims aren't exploited alone.

"One pimp may have four or five girls that are working for him that he uses coercion or force to keep them in line and to keep them working for him," Murdock said.

But now, one mobile app called Redlight Traffic is looking to stop this sex crime by using the eyes and ears of residents in the community.

"If we could empower people to speak up that say, "Hey, it's ok not to know and I think that something should be looked into over here," That was the idea with the app. To merry those two needs. The community getting involved and increasing tips," Jessica Haq, Community Relations Manager for Redlight Traffic, said.

By just the tap of a finger, users can anonymously submit a photo and description of suspicious activity that's sent from the app team to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

"Somebody who's doing what they can from where they stand. That can be as simple as saying, "Hey that doesn't look right. I'm gonna say something," That can lead to 16 or 30 kids being rescued," Haq said.

Local FBI says contrary to popular belief, most human trafficking victims are from the U.S.

"They come from broken homes, they're runaways, those girls that are easily influenced to be able to come and travel with someone and give them the self esteem from that person," Murdock said.

So if you are hesitant to submit a tip, the app team says don't ask yourself "What if I'm wrong?" Instead think, "What if I'm right?"

"You're looking for a real person who has indicators in their behavior, in what they're wearing, that they might be at risk or in the middle of being exploited," Haq said.

There is a call center open 24/7 for victims to call for help. That number is 1-888-373-7888.

For more information on the Redlight Traffic app, which also takes tips for labor trafficking, click here.
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