Trucker Named Highway Angel for Discovering Human Traffickers with Caged Children
by Women In Trucking Staff, on Aug 22, 2023 9:34:52 AM
It’s an incredible story: On June 18 of this year, around one o’clock in the morning in a border state, a professional driver was parked at a dark rest stop just off I-10. A white pickup truck with a tarp and cage pulled up in front of him and a woman got out of the truck and went around to the back of it.
“She raises the tarp, and there’s a padlock on this cage,” says Michael, the truck driver (his full name and hometown is eliminated in this article to protect his identity). “She takes the padlock off and opens it and out comes these three or four little girls. They didn’t pull all the kids out — they put the lock back on and they forced the kids into the restroom.”
Michael says the little girls who he saw were no older than three or four years old. When the two adults and little girls came back out of the bathroom, the driver of the pickup forced the kids back into the cage, locked it, and covered the cage in a tarp. At that point, Michael called the police and was able to walk around in the dark to read the truck’s license plate. Somehow the two adults in the pickup truck must have noticed him, because they took off quickly in the truck. Michael followed them.
“They got about two or three miles ahead of me, but I was on the phone with the dispatcher,” he says. “Next thing you know, the police pulled them over— cops came out of everywhere.”
Michael also pulled over and waited till the police were ready to speak with him to get his statement. Police told Michael that “this kind of thing happens all the time.” Several of the children had been reported missing and there were even more children in the cage.
“In the cage, there were hammocks with kids draped across the top,” Michael recalls, “and the entire bottom of the cage was filled with children.”
Police also told him for his own protection he should depart, in case anyone affiliated with the human traffickers was watching. The father of two young children (including a little girl), Michael was emotionally distraught after the nightmarish discovery.
“It’s really scary,” he says.
The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) named Michael a “Highway Angel” for discovering human traffickers with caged children. Since the TCA Highway Angels program’s inception in August 1997, nearly 1,300 professional truck drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage displayed while on the job. Thanks to the program’s presenting sponsor, EpicVue, and supporting sponsor, DriverFacts, TCA is able to showcase outstanding drivers like Michael. The TCA Highway Angels website can be accessed at truckload.org/highway-angel/.
Here the link is a video Michael shot that night: youtu.be/JHzDxXvrNvo
UPDATE: The Truckload Carriers Association has revoked the Highway Angel award after claims of a human trafficking situation turned out to not be true. Learn More
Women In Trucking Helps Raise Awareness
The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) has been helping to actively raise awareness through many initiatives, including a strategic relationship to support the efforts and visibility of Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT). Part of this relationship involves support tactics such as providing visibility of TAT at the Accelerate! Conference & Expo and articles such as this on the Women In Trucking blog and Redefining the Road, WIT’s official magazine.
In addition, WIT will feature a panel discussion on human trafficking (sponsored by TAT) at the 2023 Accelerate! Conference & Expo.
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