In his first 15 years in the trucking industry, Bill Brady was unaware of sex trafficking of youth along America’s highways, a problem hiding in plain site. But after the New York Mills, Minnesota resident joined Lodestar Transport Services in Barnesville as an owner-operator, he learned about the issue through Truckers Against Trafficking, a Colorado-based group dedicated to ending the crime. And Brady decided to take action.
“I didn’t realize it was going on,” said Brady, one of the 2013 finalists for American Trucker magazine’s “Trucker of the Year,” in a phone interview as he drove his big rig through Nebraska. “I could have been doing something about this. I don’t want to see this happen to any kids I know. I just don’t want to see this happen to anybody’s kids. If there is a way to prevent this from happening, I’d like to get the knowledge out there.” Over the past year, Brady has participated in panel discussions at a Minnesota high school, Columbia University in New York and at another college in Missouri and spread awareness throughout central Minnesota.
One of Brady’s stops was at Wadena’s Polman Transfer, which employs 85 drivers. He dropped off a training video and handed out fliers to employees. “(Truckers Against Trafficking) is doing a good job of getting the information out,” said co-owner DJ Polman. “It just takes somebody to take a phone call. If you see anything out of the ordinary, don’t be afraid to call the authorities. It could save somebody’s life.”
Forced prostitution, particularly of underage girls, definitely exists, said John Sivicky, a 37-year veteran of the open road. “They’re out there,” said the safety director and dispatcher at Tony’s Transfer in Wadena. “You get approached all the time at the truckstop … It’s just a vicious cycle. (Truckers) can’t tell whether they’re being held against their will or not.” Just because it’s not obvious, Sivicky said, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. “It’s amazing. You can be in the middle of nowhere and it’s going on out there.” When Sivicky sees someone too young, he said, he calls the cops.
Brady said he plans to continue his fight against sex trafficking with presentations around the state and country and passing out Truckers Against Trafficking literature to area truckers. “I know I’ve got a long way to go,” said the 37-year-old with an estimated 2.4 million miles behind him.
To report trafficking, call the National hotline, at 1-888-373-7888. “Be aware of your surroundings,” said Sydni Mansager, safety director and co-owner of Lodestar. “Better call and make a mistake than not call and find a young girl dead in the ditch.”
Learn more at Bryce Haugen’s DL-Online article: New York Mills trucker fights sex trafficking in his industry.