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TPD spreads awareness about human trafficking ahead of Gem Show

The show attracts tens of thousands of people each year
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 5:18 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Tucson Police Department is preparing for the expected influx in traffic coming through Tucson for the Gem and Mineral Show and possible increase in human trafficking.

The show attracts tens of thousands of people from around the country and even the world to southern Arizona each year. Tucson Police Detective Jennifer Crawford visited hotels along I-10 on Tuesday, handing out packets that describe the signs of human trafficking.

“We haven’t really seen an uptick in cases during the gem show which doesn’t mean it isn’t happening,” she said. “It might just be getting missed or maybe not reported obviously.”

The department wants hotel employees to recognize red flags.

“You might see an age inappropriate person with what looks like a minor trying to check into a hotel,” she said.

She said they tell housekeeping to be aware of Do Not Disturb signs on doors for multiple days and guests not wanting hotel staff inside their room.

Hotel McCoy’s general manager, Lynette Lopez, has talked with her staff about what to do if something doesn’t seem quite right.

“Things that would kind of alert your spidey senses to something being off or wrong,” Lopez said. “In that case if we have a chance to pull them aside by themselves, ask if everything is okay and go from there.”

It’s not just hotels that should be aware. Detective Crawford said Airbnb’s have seen a growing number of incidents.

“I know they’ve been a little bit stricter I think or try to screen people as best they can but we do have Airbnb’s involved as well,” she said.

Officers at the police department will be on extra alert during their shifts with the Gem Show approaching.

“To be a little bit more aware on certain calls that potentially could mask a sex trafficking situation,” Detective Crawford said. “Potentially run away reports domestic violence is a big one.”

TPD wants everyone to be aware and report a situation if it seems suspicious. Additional red flags include signs of physical abuse or a person who acts submissive or fearful.

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