158: The Trucking Industry’s Greatest Weapon Against Human Trafficking

This week on the Oakley Podcast, host Jeremy Kellett chats with Chris Moreno, Industry Training Program Specialist at Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT). During the episode, Chris and Jeremy discuss the organization’s mission to educate, equip, empower, and mobilize members of the trucking, busing, and energy industries to recognize and report human trafficking, the importance of training truck drivers to recognize and report it, education and resources for drivers and companies, and more.

Key topics in today’s conversation include:

  • Human Trafficking Statistics (0:12)
  • Chris’ journey and background leading her to TAT (4:16)
  • What is Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) (7:14)
  • Human Trafficking under our noses (8:52)
  • Manipulation Tactics Used by Traffickers (9:49)
  • The Trucking Industry’s Role in Fighting Trafficking (12:39)
  • Truckers Against Trafficking success story (18:44)
  • Training avenues for drivers (21:34)
  • States requiring TAT training (23:01)

Oakley Trucking is a family-owned and operated trucking company headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas. For more information, check out our show website: podcast.bruceoakley.com


Chris Moreno  00:12

On a global scale, there’s actually over 50 million victims of human trafficking today. And they are the ones that actually generate a $150 billion enterprise for the traffickers on an annual basis. So it actually just passed the drug epidemic that we have in our country today. So being the second biggest issue in America, it is huge. It is something that we don’t honestly recognize all the time.

Jeremy Kellett  00:37

Welcome to the Oakley podcast, trucking, business and family. This show is brought to you by Oakley trucking headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The purpose of this podcast is to communicate with Oakley owner operators and their families by giving them up to date information concerning Oakley trucking and the trucking industry, for business advice to safety updates to success stories, also to give an insight to outside truck drivers that might be interested in joining the Oakley family. We are still at the Mid America truck show 2023 Louisville, Kentucky and you know, we spend this time every year to get to know some of the people that are in the trucking industry that help truck drivers. I can’t you know, I know you guys probably think he goes against saying that, you know who’s helping truck drivers, but I just love talking to people that do it. I love promoting information that helps our truck drivers and you know, help them be successful. But also, you know, we have to talk about things, sometimes serious things that are in the trucking world that have to be addressed. And that’s why my next guest I’m really looking forward to this conversation because it’s something that is not talked about enough. I will say though, I’ve started hearing more about it through certain avenues. And it’s made me more aware of what’s going on. And so that’s why I asked Chris Marino to sit down with us with truckers against trafficking. And talk to us about that, you know, explain what that organization is, what they do, the awareness that they’re making, and even some stories that everybody can relate to. And the main thing is just bringing awareness of truckers against trafficking to everybody’s mind. So Chris, thanks for joining me.

Chris Moreno  02:26

Yeah, I appreciate you having us. I mean, we love to talk about that and what we have to offer. So yeah,

Jeremy Kellett  02:32

Well, it’s something that, like I said, is coming out more and more. You’re hearing more and more about it. But for our listeners, it’s never heard of in Korea. So let’s talk about what truckers are. Alright, but firstly, before I do that, I always have to do this. Give us a little history about Chris Marino.

Chris Moreno  02:51

Yeah, so gosh, well, my name is Chris Marino. I currently live and reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A lot of what I do, I mean, given the place that I’m living is a lot of hiking and a lot of being outdoors. There’s breweries everywhere. So I know that bourbons are huge in Kentucky, is that right? That’s correct. Yep. And Colorado is all about the beer.

Jeremy Kellett  03:12

I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know. You don’t know. Colorado is all about Coors.

Chris Moreno  03:18

And there you go. The stadium, the manufacturing plant. Huge quarters, you’ll see it everywhere, that’s for sure. But yeah, I spent a lot of time, obviously working for that and then just doing everything else outdoors. And I do have a family. So I mean, immediate family wise. I’m the third of four children. So kind of the middle with my older brother who was slightly annoying. You know, that’s how siblings are. And yeah, so I also have three, well, two nephews and a niece, a new niece. She was born at the end of January. So that’s been a real treasure. But they also live in Colorado. So you’d see him a lot . I get to see them a lot. So I am honestly a huge family person. I spend a lot of time on the weekends making sure that I see them. And we do things together because we were always really close knit when we were younger. So

Jeremy Kellett  04:12

So what’s your background as far as getting involved with truckers against trafficking? Yeah, so

Chris Moreno  04:17

I love to tell that story. And honestly, on top of that much, back in college, which in 2016 I was a freshman, so my spring year, but I was actually driving home for a holiday. And I actually hit a patch of black ice on the way. So I went to school in South Dakota for a little context, and went all the way down to Texas. But along that drive, I hit a patch of ice and actually crashed my vehicle. So in that instance, I just remember, you know, trying to get out of the car or whatever. And it was actually a Tyson’s semi truck that stopped by and he had his family and his back cab and they helped me out of the vehicle the his wife actually took her own code off her, her back and covered me in it and like sat me down and was like they’re through the whole process of, you know, what do you do next? What is this man? It was just great. I mean, honestly, that was my first kind of interaction with a truck driver. And it left a huge impression, obviously. Yeah, great story.

Jeremy Kellett  05:21

So you took that. And then I guess you went to school? How did you get involved with truckers against trafficking?

Chris Moreno  05:29

Yeah. So in a social justice, cause or context, I’ve always been around it. My mom does a lot of nonprofit work for housing insecurity. So it’s always huge. Always somebody that I wanted to be involved with, obviously, I knew I needed to go to school, that was supposed to be my route anyways. And from there, I got kind of tied into transportation interesting anyways, with being actually an auditor for an insurance company, down in Colorado. And from there, I was like, man, you know, truck drivers. I just love truck drivers. I’m not even gonna lie. They’re just the best group of people. And they’re so funny and so compassionate. So when I saw the opening for, you know, my position today at chat, I mean, social justice, transportation, it was like the perfect combination of what I was looking for.

Jeremy Kellett  06:19

So what do you do? What is your position? Yeah, so I’m the

Chris Moreno  06:23

Industry Training Program Specialist. Essentially what that means is I onboard all of the trucking companies that come through and want to implement our training, as well as oversee all 50 trucking associations. Yeah, the networking and corresponding with them and making sure our relationships are good.

Jeremy Kellett  06:40

That’s a big job right there.

Chris Moreno  06:42

Yeah, I owe 50 or 50. The trucking associations are probably 80% of the job. So

Jeremy Kellett  06:50

Are you doing any speaking here at this show? Mid America? Do you have any?

Chris Moreno  06:54

I actually am not. But my coworker Maggie Dawson’s, actually speaking on Saturday at 3: 15 in the North wing, is one of those pods. I think it’s like 1041061 of those conference rooms tomorrow. So definitely, if you’re listening, or yeah, if you’re able to keep definitely go out there and listen to

Jeremy Kellett  07:14

the crowd out there. tomorrow. Tomorrow’s a really busy day. Arrow Truck Sales has been in business for over 60 years and a longtime partner of Oakley trucking and the Oakley podcast, Dre visor and Keith Wilson do a great job at putting you in the right truck to fit your needs and our needs here at Oakley. They carry all makes and models to choose from with on site financing through transport funding. So whether you are a seasoned owner, operator or first time buyer, be sure to contact Keith Wilson at Arrow Truck Sales at 573-216-6047. And tell him you heard it on the Oakley podcast. So what is truckers against trafficking organization to explain to our listeners what, what exactly that is and what it does?

Chris Moreno  08:05

Yeah, so truckers against trafficking or honestly will probably refer to it as tat and most of the time every year tat. That’s what it is. But it’s a 5013 c non profit organization that is honestly out there to educate, equip, empower, as well as mobilize members of the trucking bustling, as well as energy industries to recognize and report human trafficking.

Jeremy Kellett  08:30

Okay. And, you know, is it? Is it something that could be happening right under our nose? I mean, are there statistics showing that? How many victims are involved or have been rescued and something that you’re making awareness of? So, you know, it’s got to be something that’s probably we’re not aware of that could be happening right here.

Chris Moreno  08:52

Yeah. And I mean, unfortunately, it is all around us. Like you said, it’s right under our noses. Some statistics for you, you know, in regards or on a global scale, there’s actually over 50 million victims of human trafficking today. And they are the ones that actually generate a $150 billion dollar enterprise for the traffickers on an annual basis. So huge an epidemic, it actually just passed the drug epidemic that we have in our country, today’s being the second biggest issue in America. So it is huge. It is something that we don’t honestly recognize all the

Jeremy Kellett  09:29

time, what is the common situation of trafficking? I mean, curious, is it somebody controlling another person and then selling them to people or what is it?

Chris Moreno  09:43

Yeah, so

Jeremy Kellett  09:45

gosh, example, you know that you say you’re something that

Chris Moreno  09:49

so most of the time, traffickers will actually manipulate the victims using tactics such as force, such as fraud and also coercion which I will say is by means the most powerful means that traffickers manipulate victims, really with caution, there’s never that need for a trafficker in an instance to you know, lock their victims in cages or use physical chains, because they use those tactics to manipulate them. A couple of examples from a caution perspective, I mean, it’s really, you know, that trafficker threatening, maybe a young mother, to call Child Welfare Services to get their children taken away, if they don’t comply. And it’s stuff like, you know, that you hear it all the time, or the typical case of that young woman who gets this, you know, too good to be true scenario of being able to work as a model in the big city, and then from there, the trafficker will enter them into this x trade. And it I mean, there’s so many, so many examples of how that could happen,

Jeremy Kellett  10:54

land, I guess you just don’t think about it. Because I mean, they may be free to do what they want to do, but they’re still controlled by somebody or manipulated by somebody. Right. And that makes it the some of them may even not even realize they’re in a situation like that,

Chris Moreno  11:11

You know, a lot of the time, they might not even know of them being in that situation, it’s really hard for victims to recognize that because of the manipulation tactics they’re under. And when you consider, you know, half of the identified cases out there, of those being involved with children, it’s actually their friends or family members that are trafficking them or selling them. So most of the time, you know, when you think about the vulnerabilities of how they get exploited, typically kids in foster care, ones who’ve aged out of foster care or runaways, the homeless, people who come from abusive homes are particularly at risk for this situation. And, I mean, they get manipulated by these traffickers. And they think like, wow, this is a good opportunity for me, or they don’t understand that. This is what’s happening. And I mean, most of them being kids, typically, your victim is going to be from the ages of 13 to 18. Oh, really? Yeah. So that’s, that’s the majority there.

Jeremy Kellett  12:11

Yeah, that’s when you’re most vulnerable. Yeah, probably believe the story that they’re telling you.

Chris Moreno  12:17

And that’s exactly why those are, you know, that’s a demographic of what traffickers are trying to get out, because they know that those young kids, those kids are going to be easy targets for them.

Jeremy Kellett  12:28

What areas of what industries, I know, we talked about truck driving a lot, but I mean, is that the majority of the trafficking going on? Is it in the trucking industry?

Chris Moreno  12:39

No. So to be honest, this is every state, everything can be happening, every zip code, it’s happening everywhere. So I can tell you that, you know, this industry is the worst, they’re causing the problem. Honestly, I truly believe that the trucking industry could be the most beneficial in this fight, just because of the integration and the ways that they come into play. I mean, they’re in a lot of places where they see a lot of this potential action or potential victims in the process and law enforcement, they can’t be everywhere all at once. And when you consider that the trucking industry is through millions strong. I mean, there’s so many ways, eyes and ears all around the road, making sure yeah, there definitely could be the biggest, biggest,

Jeremy Kellett  13:25

What does a truck driver need to look for? I mean, to something suspicious, I mean, they’re pretty good at knowing, hey, something missing right there. But now they may see a lot of it, then I might go, there’s a lot of things in the trucking world. It’s not right. You know, that’s, that can be normal. What are some of the things they need to look for? You thought?

Chris Moreno  13:45

Yeah, so some things to look for, you know, in an instance, where you cross those pads, I mean, you’re talking about in regards to, you know, gas stations, hotels, you know, areas where truck drivers would be? I mean, typically, if you see something secluded, like an RV, or a huge SUV in the back, typically, that’s a good place to indicate like, Yeah, something’s not right there. And, you know, for a part of it, it’s also that gut feeling like you said, I mean, a lot of people have that really good instinct of knowing when something doesn’t feel right. And, honestly, one of the leading causes of knowing that there’s something bad happening, but also just seeing, you know, most typically, you’re gonna see young women and girls of color in those situations. And it could be, you know, they look disheveled. They don’t know where they are, oftentimes, traffickers don’t tell them where they are, so that they don’t know where to go for help. And most of the time as well, there’ll be a trafficker anyways, they’ll be on the premises to be a part of that bartering process to kind of be the security, you know, quote, security to make sure that they don’t go anywhere, but visit Chloe, oh, as far as description, it could be bruising, it could be brandy, like could be them, you know, if you’re able to talk somebody in that situation, they could, you know, start topics of oh, about a quota or they could be saying that their daddy sent them out and they need to get some money or, you know, there’s just there’s a lot of those instances of in those situations, that’s typically what you’re going to hear. Yeah. If that’s a victim,

Jeremy Kellett  15:27

Do you think I mean, of course, these traffickers are probably not stupid people. No, not at all. How do you think they go about getting their victims? I mean, the kids that they traffic, I mean, he, has there been any definite research are definite, you know, are they staking out schools really staking out neighborhoods? Are they just you know, because Mike’s you trying to thank how somebody would be getting those kids.

Chris Moreno  15:54

Yeah, yeah. And we kind of touched on it earlier. I mean, most of the time, traffickers manipulate those vulnerabilities, family, yep, family members, putting the children or you know, their kids in the sex trade. We actually have a survivor later on staff who was actually involved in familial trafficking. So her mother, she was actually a nurse. And she trafficked her daughter for I couldn’t tell you how many years but it is a very long time, her whole childhood. But you know, with vulnerabilities that you like we’ve stated earlier, those are some of the ways that traffickers get those, those victims under their control. And, honestly, it’s just so horrible to see how smart that they are, and taking control and taking advantage of these kids or these victims, and it’s just truly horrifying.

Jeremy Kellett  16:46

Well, how’s the fight? Gonna look?

Chris Moreno  16:49

I mean, gosh, obviously, a lot of work. So much work, but really great work. I mean, for one, we get to, you know, being a part of the trucking industry, and we’re really wanting that crowd to, to be those people on the roads and be the ones to direct action and direct change. It’s truly amazing how we’re able to come to shows like this, and be around the industry and really get immersed into how people feel about people, what people do, and just how compassionate they are. I mean, it’s going well, obviously, to put it simply, but there’s so much work to be done. Right, you know, we’re nowhere close. And I can say that, I mean, we’ve trained over 1.5 million people with our training so far. So there’s been countless of actually there’s a statistic out there from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and they actually send us some stats every once in a while. But we know from within the past five years, 41% of the cases that truckers have called into the national hotline, almost half of them have been cases that involve a minor. So there’s a lot that’s pretty good. Yeah, no, it’s a mate. Like, obviously, it’s very clear that our training is working or networking’s working or, you know, putting out our resources, making these connections and relationships with the companies that we deal with. It’s working, but there’s always that great need. I mean, we started out by saying that there’s 50 million victims of trafficking today. And there’s more work to be done, for sure.

Jeremy Kellett  18:31

Are there that many victims out there? I mean, that’s, I guess it’s you have to estimate it somehow. But wow, that’s a lot. I never thought it’d be that many. Are you seeing the I guess y’all get excited when you get some rescues?

Chris Moreno  18:44

We do. Oh, we love our stories. When we get a company calling in or sending an email inquiring about, you know, one of my drivers made a call today, you know, it’s just amazing. You know, you get to see those, although there’s that many victims, but you get this light of hope like this is working. You’re out there doing what they have to do. And it’s great. I mean, for example, there was a story, and I don’t know if anybody’s heard of it, or it was back in 2015, actually, but it took place in Virginia, is that a Virginia truckstop. And there was this couple whose names were actually Laura Sorenson and now they’re hodza. And they were actually trafficking a young woman in their RV at this truck stop. So a Conway load truck driver, his name’s Kevin Kimball. This is one of my favorite stories, by the way, but he actually noticed just the scarcity and how shady you know this RV and people coming in and out from the convenience store to the RV and disappearing and then coming back in like there were just a lot of red flags that he noticed. So he actually called the state police that day. They had a trooper come out they took that young woman out of the RV, the young woman was, you know, very upfront saying she didn’t want to go back in the RV that she needed, how she had actually been trafficked by this coupled and was physically and emotionally abused by them in stating that she was, you know, taken from her home in Iowa, so Iowa, to Virginia, you know, she had traveled that far with these traffickers. And needless to say, you know, that call saved her life. She’s back home with her family. Kevin. He calls himself a trucker against trafficking. You know, it was his training that allowed him to do exactly what he needed to because he knew how to do it. So what are those success stories? What

Jeremy Kellett  20:42

a great story you know, you got to hear those you want to hear those to keep doing and keep watching and keep looking and doing what you can do as a truck driver to maybe they see that next story and get somebody some help out of their lease on with Oakley trucking America’s drop off call our owner operators are the top paid in the country and we will prove it to you. We offer steady year round freight as well as a yearly annual bonus and increase each year your lease to us. Oakley has multiple divisions in dumps Hopper, bottoms, and pneumatics. So we are sure to have something that works for your schedule, and hometown. Check us out on YouTube as well as our weekly podcast or give us a call today and see why Oakley trucking was everything you have been looking for. You know, what are some of the ways I guess the drivers can get trained? Or what avenues Do you have that they can get trained?

Chris Moreno  21:34

Yeah, gosh, there’s so much, there’s so much training, so many materials that we have to give to drivers and personnel within these industries to get trained and know what to look for. I would say specifically, you know, our website has an education portal, if it’s something you do want to do solely on your own, where you can go to that portal, it’s less than a 30 minute video and quiz altogether. And that’s how simple it is to get trained. But in the instance of let’s say, a trucking company, or an organization or an association wants other people to get trained, then we actually have a general mailbox called info at truckers against trafficking.org. And really, we just take a lot of inquiries there. We separate those contacts to the people that it needs to go to within our organization. And from there, we’ll get you on the right track to Well, number one, we want your company to be trained. First and foremost, we want you to know how to recognize and report trafficking. And then from there navigate you through the ways of how I can be more involved? Or are you going to be at this event? Can I volunteer or you know, just be immersed in it? Well, we have gone

Jeremy Kellett  22:47

Now there are some states that are requiring this training, you know, before you renew your CDL, you have to watch a video. Is that your is that part of what you do or so to help get that pass through legislation or

Chris Moreno  23:01

so there’s actually two states right now that require the TAT training, to renew or get your CDL. And that’s Arkansas and Kansas. There are a lot of other states, I believe there’s 13, and all that require at a CDL level or legislative in some form to have the TAT training. So there’s a lot of avenues or Yeah, of how, you know, a lot of people are implementing this and saying like, hey, you need to get trained. And there’s quite a few

Jeremy Kellett  23:32

seeing a lot more trucking companies putting that in part of their process for their program for their drivers to watch the videos to get certified, I guess.

Chris Moreno  23:42

Oh, yeah. I mean, gosh, 1000s 1000s and 1000s of trucking companies. And that’s specifically what I deal with is those trucking companies. But there’s so many, and it’s shows like this. It’s when we give presentations to the partners that we already have. And you have a few who go tell their friends. I mean, honestly, that lives by the term of marshaling our resources of other partners to get the word out, spread the word and network. And it’s, honestly , staples. I mean, you see him here today, household names, UPS, FedEx, Walmart, they’re all great partners of that. And they’re all here saying the same thing. Like you need to go see that you need to. I mean, all of them have volunteered at our booth today as well. So I mean, it’s just using those networks to channel the right contacts and get the right people through the door so that those companies want to be traded. Yeah,

Jeremy Kellett  24:33

that sounds like you’re getting out there and you’re making a difference, Chris,

Chris Moreno  24:36

we’re doing our best and I think we’re doing it you know, when you feel tired, you feel exhausted. You know, you’re doing the right thing. You’re doing the work. Yeah. You put

Jeremy Kellett  24:46

in the work and the results come out of it. Exactly. It’s very good. So anything else you’d like to add? Before we close? I think you’ve covered all the questions I had and explained it very well. You know, I’m a little disappointed. We’re not part of the process, but we’d all do what else we do as independent contractors. So, you know, we kind of let them do their own thing, but I thought there’d be more states that required the, you know, to get this when you get your CDL renewal that they have to watch the video to. Regardless, it’s good, all good information, anything else you’d like to add?

Chris Moreno  25:21

I just appreciate you giving us the time. I mean, we like to make sure people are aware, not always the funniest information to put out there, but definitely something that’s needed. So we’re not afraid of that.

Jeremy Kellett  25:34

Well, thank you for joining us here on the Oakley podcast. We appreciate it very much. Yeah. I

Chris Moreno  25:39

appreciate you having us. Thank you. Have a good show. Thanks.

Jeremy Kellett  25:42

Thanks for listening to this episode with Oakley podcast, trucking, business and family. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to write or review the show in the podcast platform of your choice and share it with a friend. We love hearing from our audience. So if you’ve got a question, comment or just want to say hello, head over to our website, the Oakley podcast.com and click the leave a comment button. We’ll get you a response soon and may even share some of the best ones here on the show. We’ll be back with a fresh episode very soon. Thanks for listening.