On July 5-6, Jim F. and his team driver were in Lodi, California and witnessed, in all, six different girls, ranging in age from 15-22, going in and out of trucks, most likely being prostituted during those two days/nights. He gathered evidence like the car’s license plate and description, description of the girls and descriptions of some of the buyers who were, unfortunately, fellow truck drivers. Here is what makes this story great. Jim made the call; the sheriff responded, thanked Jim for all the information and help, and then went and handled the situation. We don’t have all the details of what happened thereafter, as once things are in law enforcement’s hands, the case becomes confidential. But we did get to talk to Jim to hear the story and to thank him for stepping up and making a call that could very well have saved some lives! That’s what being a TAT is about! Way to go, Jim!!!
We asked Jim what would you say to other drivers that suspect that trafficking is happening in a location?
"Just make the phone call; don’t get yourself too involved to where you gotta worry about someone seeing you, but make the phone call. You know someone is just abusing these people. I kinda view it as these girls area basically getting raped all day long in these trucks. They aren’t there because they want to be there; they are there because they’re being forced to be there. So it is what it is, and they’re being raped all day in these trucks; and I’m not gonna -- and I think other people need to not -- stand by and let that happen."
TAT: How did it feel to make the call to the sheriff and that part of the process?
"I think it ... I felt good, of course; I was doing the right thing. There was some nervousness too. They didn’t know I’d made a phone call, but they’d made a connection that somehow between me walking around and those girls showing up and the cop showing up … you know what I mean? You could tell they were keeping an eye on me. That was a little nerve-racking. Like I said, I do travel with my wife ... obviously I can’t be up all the time making sure no one is giving her a hard time when she goes to the bathroom. It was a little nerve-racking, but you have to do something. Sitting in your truck ignoring it is not doing something."
"Like I said in my message on Facebook, I am basically a trucker against trafficking because of Truckers Against Trafficking. I didn’t understand what was going on; I always just thought they’re just doing it for the drug money ... they’re just doing it for this ... they’re just doing it for that. I didn’t realize there was someone behind the scenes basically forcing them, enslaving them into doing these things. And ya know when I talked with you guys down at GATS when you unveiled your trailer ... when I talked with you at MATS ... when I went to our Landstar CABS class where we had to resign our contract every three years and they played the video there ... that video really hit home for me, because we’re only about 80 miles from Toledo, Ohio, and they played the girls that got swiped in Toledo. And that really hit home for me, so I’m going to do what I can, when I can."
TAT: Anything else you want to say about the experience?
"No, like I said, I think guys need to know that if they see something going on, they at least need to make the phone call, so we can stop this. I like seeing TAT’s posts on Facebook; I share a bunch of them. I think that other people are realizing through those posts that this problem exists more than what people think it does. You wouldn’t think this stuff is going on in our backyard and it is."