DOJ announces partnership with convenience store association to fight human trafficking

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MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) -- Attorney General Josh Kaul announced a partnership with the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association on Tuesday to combat human trafficking through better education for convenience store and gas station employees.

Attorney General Josh Kaul at a press conference for human trafficking, Jan. 21, 2020 (WISC Photo)

The partnership, which includes Wisconsin State Patrol and the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, is designed to help employees detect and help trafficking victims.

"The partnership we're announcing today will help more people know the signs of human trafficking and what to do when they see those signs," Kaul noted.

While the WPMCA represents an industry employing more than 50,000 people and operating almost 3,000 convenience stores in the state, according to the press release, it's unclear which stores and chains will participate until training dates are announced, a WPMCA spokesperson told NewsChannel 7.

According to the Human Trafficking Hotline Organization, truck stops are an ideal venue for traffickers, and advertising is often hidden in slang used on Citizens Band, or CB, radio.

"We want victims to know they have a place they can find help," WPMCA chairman Andrew Bowman said. "We want criminals who engage in this activity to know that they are not welcome."

The announcement follows on the heels of the DOJ's recently-released 2019 human trafficking report, which found that law enforcement attitudes toward trafficking are gradually changing but that reporting data is more incomplete than previously thought.