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Human trafficking bigger problem in Omaha during Men's College World Series

'Trafficking isn’t about kidnapping; it’s about building relationships'
Posted at 7:59 PM, Jun 19, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — With heavy crowds around Omaha for the Men’s College World Series, comes concerns for issues like human trafficking.

Human trafficking is a crime that can often go unnoticed. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and know what to look out for, especially at large events like the MCWS.

Stephanie Olson with the Set Me Free Project said, “Trafficking isn’t about kidnapping, it’s about building relationships."

The Organization focuses on stopping human trafficking before it starts.

“Everybody needs to be watching for not only active trafficking but things like the grooming process — which is how traffickers actually lure the individuals they traffic,” said Olson.

Considering the common Midwestern saying, “Nebraska Nice,” Stephanie says it’s easy for Nebraskans to trust people, but it’s important to stay diligent.

Jannette Taylor, the CEO, and president of the Women’s Center of Advancement notes that the general public can be aware of some of the warning signs.

She says that typically victims are younger women whose behaviors, movements, or access to other people are being controlled.

Other suspicious signs may include hyper-submissive behaviors like minimal eye contact and closed body language.

The Omaha Police Department also works closely with some human trafficking nonprofits and other organizations to identify potential problems.

OPD public information officer Lt. Neal Bonacci says that Omaha has a dedicated group of detectives who work with their federal and community partners.

“We work with our community partners, specifically the hotels and motels and some of the restaurants and everything, just to make them more aware of — if they do see something to say something,” Bonacci said. “Give them the red flag warnings that are around trafficking.”

If you’re a victim of human trafficking call the national human trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888 or text “Befree” to 233733.

Victims can also call the local Women’s Center for Advancement hotline that’s open 24/7 at 402-345-7273.

In case of an emergency, call 911.

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