Combating Human Trafficking in Alaska
A woman walks into the airport alone with no baggage, no company, and looks taken aback by how large the airport is. A separate flight unboards, releasing passengers. Children around the ages of 3 and 5 don’t seem to have parents or guardians around, almost swallowed up by the increasing crowd. Several feet away, a lone woman walks by with not much luggage, and not dressed too heavily for the Anchorage winter weather.*
*The above scenarios are some of the descriptions of the profiles we look for when transit monitoring.
During this last training season, we completed three shifts with Love Justice and encountered situations described above. We are entering into another phase of training with our private investigators: surveillance and conducting more effective interceptions.
Human trafficking (sex, labor, and drug muling) in Alaska is the highest in the United States. To compound the issue, active gangs across the state include the Bloods, Crypts, and Russian Mafia. All of these together give us a mission: to be the voice to the voiceless while spreading the Gospel. In this article, we'll also cover Alaska human trafficking statistics.
Stories of Alaska
Alaska was first colonized in 1762 by Russia. During this colonization, both Russian explorers and fur traders were abusive and oppressive of the Alaskan Natives. Crimes such as murder and drowning were rampant and the added suffering of disease and starvation added fuel to dwindle the population. Alcohol dependency did not assist the functioning Native tribes. In 1867, Alaska was purchased from Russia and this attracted gold miners and church missionaries alike. To aid in civilizing the Natives, church missionaries divided the Alaskan Native people populations to keep organization of which religious denominations controlled certain regions. Chaos and sin would follow this pursuit.
The Alaskan Natives were forced to bring their children to missionary schools and the children would become separated from their families. Traditional cultural practices were forbidden and punished severely. Reports of sexual abuse by both Jesuit and Catholic priests became widespread during the 60's and 70's where entire tribes and villages were affected. This created intergenerational trauma that still exists today. Sexual violence and substance abuse are both very high within the Native villages and within their communities outside villages. Native women and children are a high risk of becoming victims to human trafficking, including the homeless population. Police presence at the villages is few to none, making crime association increase. Investigation and prosecution in these areas is minimal and difficult. While working with Love Justice, our goal is to hopefully fill this gap between their services and the lack of evidence for prosecution, as God leads.
Alaska Human Trafficking Statistics
An estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the US annually (Office of Justice, 2021) and the numbers continue to rise. 50,000 to 200,000 people in the U.S. alone are trafficked every year and the numbers continue to rise. See the below reports for most recent human trafficking numbers.
Human Trafficking Leadership Academy Class 5 Recommendations (hhs.gov)
To the general Alaskan public, the dark corners of Anchorage are pathways to avoid. Networks of criminal activity. Harborers of untold stories. Our mission in Anchorage is crucial. For us at Blissful Faith, our job is to be the private eyes, often trailing potentially dangerous circumstances both inside the airport and outside. We gather intelligence, conduct surveillance, aid local police and Love Justice, and help make interceptions that free victims and put traffickers behind bars. Of those trafficked in Alaska, the Indigenous Native community is trafficked at a rate of 45%, while homeless youth are trafficked at a rate of 30% (Alaska Native Justice Center, 2021). The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, victims of human trafficking are places victims into three categories:
Children under 18 exploited for commercial sex
Adults over 18 being exploited in the commercial sex network through force, fraud, or coercion
Children and adults traded for work and services through force, fraud, or coercion
(Alaska Institute for Justice, 2021)
The very first prosecution case after the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 was enacted occurred in Anchorage, Alaska.
Other Areas of Alaska with Crime Concerns
Barrow and Bethel: Other areas that are a growing concern include Barrow and Bethel where prostitution and drug smuggling are high and drug operations can be brought into Anchorage through the airport
Nome and Saint Michael: rape cases and domestic violence continue to rise (some intercepts rescue victims of sexual violence that are boarded onto planes that land in Anchorage)
Fairbanks: aggravated assault and battery
There is high potential that during one of our intercepts, we will encounter victims of rape, domestic violence, and trafficking alike.
Profiles We Look For in Potential Victims During Transit Monitoring
traveling alone, or with minimal baggage for long flights
with no phone, documents, or identification
Not allowed to speak, leave, or venture far
Promised a grandeur job in a remote location with no known contacts
Profiles in Public
Under 18 and promoting or engaging in commercial sex
Unusual working hours or working conditions
Security measures in place to prevent outside onlookers: bars on windows, barbed wire, opaqued windows
Owes a debt and cannot leave until the debt is paid
Shows visual signs of sexual abuse/physical trauma, or torture
Sources for Identifying Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking – Alaska Institute for Justice (akijp.org)
Human Trafficking Victims and Survivors | Alaska Native Justice Center (anjc.org)
Human Trafficking Leadership Academy Class 5 Recommendations (hhs.gov)
How to Get Involved
We have partnered with Love Justice to conduct transit monitoring. Our mission for our investigations department is to uphold the teachings of Proverbs 31:8-9 and care for the least of these. If you are just as passionate for justice as we are, below are ways you can get involved.
Giving (donate here)
Partnership in investigations with us (any tips for the Anchorage area can be sent to our private investigators at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Partner with Love Justice (they can be reached at email@example.com)
Serving (for more information on what serving looks like please email our investigations team at firstname.lastname@example.org or for information for the apologetic side of the company, please email our team at email@example.com)
Lending a Hand
Human Trafficking is Today’s Slavery
The numbers of the victims of human trafficking and the stories behind the numbers are why Blissful Faith is partnering with nonprofit organizations to help fund rescues and recovery programs for those entrapped in bondage. Each number is a person. You can be the one to help make a difference by purchasing a shirt (coming soon to the blog in a few weeks) or by ordering a downloadable product currently in the store, in which proceeds will go to nonprofits that seek to give a voice to the voiceless. See more on human trafficking from my previous articles below:
The Price of Freedom
The Fight to Preserve Freedom
Updates from the Frontlines: Part1
Blissful Faith started as a lifestyle and branched into a blog to help others hear about Jesus Christ and how they too can develop a blissful faith through knowing God. This blog’s purpose is to be an evangelical outreach to further the kingdom of Christ. Furthering the kingdom means stretching outside of the comfort zone, comprehending and working towards meeting the needs of others. Putting faith to action keeps it from becoming stagnant.
Blissful Faith Merchandise
The Blissful Faith Merchandise store helps both this blog to grow and to meet the needs of others. About 8-10% of the proceeds will go to The Exodus Road and Agape International Missions to help combat human trafficking. The funds will help assist in rescue operations, providing shelter, and recovery programs to those in bondage.
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