CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The number of reported cases of human trafficking have increased across the country, and more trends are being identified.
In the last ten years, 32,000 cases of human trafficking have been reported to the national human trafficking call line.
“Last year alone, more than 8,000 cases have been identified across the country, and that’s just one year. That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” the Director of the Office of Tracking in Persons at the Department of Health and Human Services Katherine Chon said.
The organization is a federal agency that gives funding to communities to help assist victims.
It also runs the national trafficking hotline.
"Traffickers prey on anyone who’s vulnerable,” Chon said at a Charleston conference on Wednesday.
Trafficking is a form of modern slavery where a trafficker exploits someone with force, fraud or coercion to make them do work or perform a sexual act, the agency’s website said.
The agency has been tracking data related to trafficking and said there are new trends when it comes to human trafficking.
“We’re receiving more reports of traffickers recruiting from drug rehabilitation programs,” Chon said.
She said they are also seeing trafficking related to the opioid epidemic outside of the programs.
“We’re seeing more cases of family facilitated trafficking where a parent of a family member may have a substance abuse or opioid issue and sell children or others into the commercial sex industry in exchange for drugs.”
Chon said people are also learning where to look for trafficking and said that can lead to more people getting help.
"We do know more young people are reaching out and seeking help," said Chon.
You can call the Human Trafficking Hotline at any time at 1-888-373-7888.
Chon recommends you put the number in your phone, so you can call it any time you see someone who could be a victim of human trafficking.