Human Trafficking in Maryland
In many ways, Maryland is uniquely situated to be a “hot spot” for human trafficking:
- Maryland’s central location has facilitated its development as both a pass-through state and a destination for human traffickers. Traffickers utilize many of our highways, especially Interstate-95 to connect victims to major east coast cities such as New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Interstate-95 runs from the northeast to the southwest border of Maryland through some of Maryland’s most populated communities. This highway remains a heavily traveled corridor and an easily accessible thoroughfare for human traffickers.
- With major highways come numerous rest stops, truck stops, and bus stations, all of which have proven to be a primary location for traffickers to exploit their victims. The Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force has identified incidents of sex trafficking at Maryland truck stops and data from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) suggests that approximately 70 percent of human trafficking incidents occur in our nation’s truck stops. Similarly, there are three major bus terminals in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. Surveillance and contacts have exposed significant indicia of human trafficking incidents at these terminals. To help combat this issue, Maryland passed legislation requiring all truck stops, rest areas, and bus stations in Maryland to post information about the NHTRC hotline.
- Victims commonly arrive from all over the country and the world through airports like the Thurgood Marshall Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI). Airports also are a breeding ground for human trafficking because traffickers know that “Johns” who travel to Maryland for brief meetings or conferences will engage in illicit sexual activities more willingly because o f the anonymity they experience in a new location. Law enforcement has investigated numerous cases of human trafficking that have taken place at hotels around BWI.
For these reasons, victims and traffickers have told law enforcement that Maryland is a “goldmine” for human trafficking. Human trafficking has been around for centuries; however, it is an emerging crime in Maryland. It is imperative that Maryland is mobilized and coordinated to ensure that Maryland is well-equipped to serve our victims and prosecute traffickers.