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Two separate human trafficking rescues in Tuscaloosa within one week

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 12:04 AM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Two teenage girls are now home with their families after calling 911 from a Tuscaloosa hotel room. It’s the second human trafficking rescue in the city within a week.

It’s an issue becoming all-too common in the Tuscaloosa area. Thankfully, the latest trafficking victims had a chance to call for help, but it doesn’t always end that way.

“It’s extremely unusual for them to call 911 and say, ‘Hey we need help,’” said Tuscaloosa Police Captain Phil Simpson.

That call was from a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old Wednesday night.

“There came a time where they did not want to go any farther with what was going on,” said Captain Simpson. “Their initial request was that we help them get home.”

They wanted to return home to their families in a neighboring state.

Captain Simpson says the two were brought to Tuscaloosa as sex trafficking victims. Unfortunately, just one week ago, a similar investigation happened in the area.

“We’ve seen a lot of this activity increasing and we believe it’s leading up to the World Games in Birmingham,” said Captain Simpson.

He is also Commander of the West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force and says when large-scale events like the World Games are right around the corner, unlawful acts tend to rise.

“The traffickers want that business, so they’re going to go where there’s a lot of people,” he added. “They’re going to take their victims to make them money where there is a lot of people.”

In this day and age, Captain Simpson says most trafficking victims are not abducted. Instead, they are coerced.

“What we see is minors who are vulnerable,” he said. “They become enamored with somebody on the internet that they think is innocent and then they meet that person and it goes from there...until it’s too far or too late for the victims to back out.”

Captain Simpson says the typical gateway for these perpetrators is social media. He encourages parents to keep a close eye on who your children are in contact with because you never know who’s on the other side of the screen.

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