"If you see... a number of young females walking behind one older male who looks like he's in charge and not letting anyone speak, or if you try and approach the young lady or just say hello, but they won't answer to you or they'll look at the male first before speaking to you, those are some clear signs that you might want to pay attention to, and just alert any nearby officer that something just doesn't look right," said Sgt. Ernest Britton with the Atlanta Police Department's child exploitation and online protection squad, when Hartsfield-Jackson opened an art exhibit focused on human trafficking earlier this year.
"This is an area of focus for the airport," said Hartsfield-Jackson general manager Miguel Southwell. "We've been working with the law enforcement community... We've had great success in intercepting some of these traffickers at the airport."
Warning signs of human trafficking
These signs do not necessarily indicate human trafficking, "but a combination of them should be a red flag," according to Airline Ambassadors International, which provides this list in a brochure on its website.
Suspicious should arise when individuals:
• Have few or none of the usual personal items when checking in or
boarding a flight
• Are accompanied by someone who is far better dressed
• Avoid eye contact or are watchful to the point of paranoia
• Are unusually submissive to the person(s) accompanying them
• Are not allowed to speak for themselves if directly addressed, with someone
else insisting on answering or translating for them
• Do not appear to know where they are or where they are going
• Do not have the freedom to separate themselves from the person(s)
accompanying them (to use the restroom, stroll through the aircraft, etc.)
• May exhibit signs of physical abuse
• Appear to be malnourished and/or eat in-flight food ravenously
• Are evidently afraid of uniformed security personnel (being fearful of
revealing their immigration status)
• Speak of a “modeling” job or something similar without knowing who will
be meeting them upon arrival