Utah officials kick off National Human Trafficking Prevention Month

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah  – Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes recognized January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Reyes is trying to bring greater awareness to a crime that exploits children and women.

“Many who are watching this program right now don't even know it exists and yet there are 40 million plus modern day slaves worldwide, and there are thousands of victims even here in Utah,” said Reyes.

At a ceremony held at the state capitol, Reyes honored various local organizations for their work in fighting against the modern form of slavery.

Recipients includeD:
Refugee & Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah
Operation Underground Railroad
HEROES United
Junior League of Salt Lake City
Grace House
Backyard Broadcast
Standing Together
Fight the New Drug

Grace House helps refugee children heal from trauma. Backyard Broadcast is a program created by high school students aimed at combating child sex trafficking.

“For some people, it's really scary to think about,” said Tia Smart with Backyard Broadcast. “By raising awareness in high school, we’re able to prevent it from happening in the future.”

Marcus Cervantes, a senior at Academy for Math Engineering and Science, is also involved in Backyard Broadcast.

“The most shocking thing that I learned was how prominent it was. It happens in our own backyard,” Cervantes said.

A delegation of Haitian officials, who are in Utah undergoing training with the AG’s office, were also recognized. Reyes says they should be commended for their efforts in fighting human trafficking and corruption in their country.

“If we can fight it in Haiti, and Columbia and Mexico, and all of these places where we have friends and partners, we can keep that from coming in to our jurisdiction,” said Reyes. “We need the whole community and the whole state to wake up and join us," Reyes  said.

If you suspect someone is involved in human trafficking, contact the UTAH TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS TASK FORCE TIP LINE: 801-200-3443.