CLEVELAND — The NFL Draft, which is set to kick off in Cleveland on Thursday, is expected to bring thousands of people to Cleveland.
But, with increased crowds comes the possibility of an uptick in human trafficking.
“Anytime you have a large-scale event, mostly male-driven, large-scale events, you are going to see an uptick,” said Renee Jones, President of the Renee Jones Empowerment Center.
That’s why law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are encouraging the public to be alert to signs of human trafficking. The FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force will be focused on human trafficking during the draft.
But law enforcement can’t do it alone, the eyes and ears of the public are needed.
“If they see signs of indicators of human trafficking, please report it,” said Cleveland FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith.
Annette Mango is a human trafficking survivor. She said she was held captive for 15 years. It started with a drug addiction and then she became homeless.
“I was sleeping at bus stops. I met him there and he asked me to come to his house and stay safe and warm,” explained Mango. She said she was trapped and every time she tried to get away, she was beaten.
Now, clean for six years, Mango has a job, a house, and a new life. She hopes to help others by sharing her story.
“I try to go to different places and let them know, 'I was you,'” she said.
Now, as the clock ticks towards the draft, police want you to be aware of human trafficking indicators:
- Pay attention to any person, especially a minor, who is unusually anxious, fearful, showing signs of physical or emotional abuse.
- Someone who is monitored or controlled by someone else at all times.
- Someone not allowed to interact with others.
- Someone unaware of what city they are in and not in control of their own money.
- A child in a suspicious circumstance like being alone at a hotel.
If you suspect Human Trafficking, call the Human Trafficking Task Force at 216-443-6085.
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