SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – The Utah Attorney General’s Office is observing Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Wednesday, Jan. 11, shining a light on human exploitation in all its forms.

Human trafficking is considered a modern-day form of slavery and an egregious violation of human rights involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain.

The human trafficking industry is estimated to be a $150 billion per year industry, according to the AG’s Office, with millions of men, women, and children trafficked worldwide every year. The industry can include sex trafficking, forced labor, illegal adoptions and creating and selling child pornography.

These issues are reportedly prevalent in Utah, and each year, the AG’s Office investigates and prosecutes human trafficking cases across the state.

“Are these things happening in the state of Utah? Absolutely. We have prosecuted many cases and we’re investigating even more cases as we speak — labor cases, sex cases, sexual exploitation and child pornography cases,” said Attorney General Reyes.

The AG’s Office states that fighting human trafficking is a priority for Reyes, with the Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force and the Utah SECURE Strike Force supporting anti-human trafficking legislation, victim recovery and advocacy.

Additionally, their investigators reportedly investigate and arrest human traffickers.

Traffickers use complex manipulative tactics such as “force, fraud or coercion” to control their victims, a press release states. This reportedly makes it difficult for victims to come forward as they “might not even be aware they are being victimized” or “fear retribution” from their traffickers.

The AG’s Office states that unfortunately, because of its “secretive nature,” human trafficking is hard to detect.

Here’s how you can help, according to the AG’s Office:

  • Get Informed. Understanding human trafficking is the most important thing that you can do. Educate yourself and those around you about the realities of human trafficking.
  • Pay Attention. Pay attention to those you know and interact with. Human Trafficking is often not visible on the surface. Learn about recognizing human trafficking.
  • Support Anti-trafficking efforts. Whether it’s through volunteering at anti-trafficking organizations, hosting an awareness-raising event, or discussing your concerns with your state representatives, your support and efforts will make a difference.
  • Report Human Trafficking. If you observe something, say something. Contact the Human Trafficking Hotline.

If you encounter a situation that you think involves human trafficking, contact your local law enforcement, the Utah Human Trafficking Tipline at 801-200-3443, or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-3737-888.

Do not attempt to confront a suspected trafficker directly or alert a victim to any suspicions. It is up to law enforcement to investigate suspected cases of human trafficking.

Additionally, if you are thinking of running from home, if you have a friend who has run away, or if you are a runaway ready to go home, contact the National Runaway Safeline at 800-786-2929.