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April 23, 2015 10:40 AM, EDT

Truckers Against Trafficking Receives Congressional Award

Costa, Brady, Poe by Jaclyn O'Laughlin
Truckers Against Trafficking has been honored by a group of federal lawmakers for its work in rescuing young women from human trafficking networks in which they are sexually exploited.

The award was presented by the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus, a bipartisan group of House members, at an April 22 ceremony on Capitol Hill.

“Those 18-wheelers you see all across the country every day, they are involved in helping stop the scourge of trafficking,” said caucus co-founder Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas).

The award to the trucking group was one of several the caucus presented at the ceremony honoring those who work in the field of victims’ rights.

“This work is incredibly important as trafficking victims are moved around the country and they are, unfortunately, in and out of a truck stop,” Poe said. “The truckers use that as an advantage to be able to call law enforcement to help stop this scourge.”

Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), who founded the caucus with Poe, called the ceremony a celebration of the “champions who every day try to make a difference for those . . . who have been . . . affected or may be . . . a victim of crime.”

Trucker Bill Brady of New York Mills, Minnesota, an owner-operator who drives for Lodestar Transport, accepted the award for the group.

“I strongly feel the trucking industry has the opportunity to play a pivotal role in the fight against human trafficking in the sense that we’re not only the eyes and ears of the highways . . . but we’ve got the means of communciating with one another from out there on the road,” Brady said.

Truckers Against Trafficking, which was founded as part of a Christian ministry group, become its own 501(c)(3) in 2011.

The group works to educate drivers and the public about how the girls caught up in the networks are not “out there because they want to be there,” Brady said. “They are being forced.”

The group maintains a 24-hour hotline to which truckers can report what they believe are instances of human trafficking, and the group alerts local law enforcement agencies.

The award given to the truckers is named after the late Suzanne McDaniel, a Texas prosecutor.

The caucus said she was one of the first prosecutor-based victim advocates in the country and founded the Texas Crime Victim Clearinghouse, the first statewide resource in the nation.