Funding has been awarded to the International Institute of Buffalo to continue providing services for victims of human trafficking.
The U.S. Justice Department grants total nearly $1.5 million and will be shared with the Erie County Sheriff's Department. Congressman Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) made the announcement Thursday. Since 2006, the partners have helped nearly 1,400 survivors who were found in locations across the region. The IIB's Director of Survivor Support Services, Amy Fleischauer says, human trafficking can happen to anyone with a vulnerability that can be exploited - including young white suburban girls and boys. Fleischauer says red flags to watch out for include unusual traffic in out of businesses or homes at odd times of the day.
"If it looks as though people are forced to live where they work that's another sign. If you come in contact with someone who seems afraid of their employer or doesn't have good answers about where they work, how long that they've worked, when they've come into this country. Those are all signs that someone maybe trafficked," Fleischauer said.
She says she's seen "an immense diversity" of male and female survivors from 9-years-of age up into their 80s. She says the only thing the Human Trafficking Task Force needs to launch an investigation is a tip call to 911 or the Sheriff's Office.