By Linda Miller
ST. PAUL (Jan. 31, 2013) — North Dakota oil fields may be a new market for sale of humans for sex and labor.
Victims are driven along I-90 and then north on roads which are normally deserted. Trafficked victims, both international and domestic, are being transported for labor and sex trafficking in the North Dakota oil fields.
In response to these crimes against victims of human trafficking, a collaboration of organizations, including law enforcement, sexual and domestic assault advocates, educators, shelters, and attorneys plan to travel to a conference in San Francisco to receive training in collaborative efforts. Attendees will then train other collaborators.
Collaboration members will work together to provide safety and victim centered services for sex and labor trafficked victims. Those victims will be empowered to testify against traffickers to interdict the flow of sex and labor trafficked victims along Minnesota corridors and the stem the tide of victims being transported north to North Dakota oil fields.
Recently, police stopped a speeding vehicle along I-90 in Minnesota. The police saw a little girl in the back seat of the car huddled as far away from the driver as possible. Police questioned the driver who did not speak the language of the girl. The police determined that the driver did not know enough about the little girl to be transporting her.
Aliandra (pseudonym) from Central America, had only a bottle of water and the ragged clothes on her back. She was shivering both from fear of the driver and the cold. She looked to be about 12 years old.
The driver of the car told the police that two men were to meet him at the next truck stop to pick up the girl and that they should know more about the kid. The police said, “Let’s go.”
When the police met the two men at the truck stop, they determined that neither one of the men spoke the girl’s language. The two men could not tell the police enough about the child to be in control of her.
The child was brought to a temporary foster home placement. The foster mother’s heart broke when the child whimpered and clung to her.
The enlightened county attorney and judges appointed a guardian ad litem and social worker who contacted Civil Society, a not for profit organization providing legal and case management services for human trafficking victims. They contacted Civil Society by calling the Minnesota Human Trafficking Crisis and Tip Line at 1-888-772-3324.
Civil Society was able to begin to work with the guardian ad litem and social worker who had never encountered a child in these circumstances before. They were anxious that the child would be deported.
Authorities found that the child had been transported and marched to the U.S. from Central America across horribly rough terrain at night, with little or no food and water. They also suspect that the child had been abused along the road trip to Minnesota. All those dealing with the child realized that she would probably be trafficked again and be forced to make the same dangerous trek again if she were deported.
Law enforcement has noted increased transportation of this same ethnic group along I-90 and then north toward North Dakota in the last year.
There is help under the Trafficking Victim Protection Act for this child. The federal government also provides psychological counseling for victims by culturally appropriate experts, knowledgeable in the human trafficking of children.
The girl is from an ethnic group which has been designated one of the most vulnerable to trafficking by the Trafficking in Persons Report, www.state.gov/g/tip. This is because of the group’s abject poverty, isolation (they don’t even speak Spanish) and because they have a cultural practice of going into trance-like states. Thus, when they are abused, they may dissociate rather than recognize the abuse.
Poor villagers in Central America are threatened that they be killed or will lose their small plots of land if they don’t send their daughters to work. Many of them don’t realize or are fooled into believing that their daughters will be working in the fields in the United States like they work in the fields at home. However, children who are labored trafficked are usually also sex trafficked. When villagers receive money from the sex or labor trafficking of their daughters, they often use it to send their younger children to the U.S. to gain more money for the family.