CLEVELAND (WJW) – A FOX 8 I-Team investigation is sparking action at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport helping a group that is fighting human trafficking in a mission that could save lives.
We found something missing at Hopkins that you see at airports around the country. Soon, that will change. ⠀
There are plenty of signs at Hopkins, but nothing raising awareness of human trafficking or where to get help, even though the I-Team has uncovered human trafficking cases at the airport in the past.
In 2021, the I-Team reported on a human trafficking investigation that began after a woman had a medical emergency.
She told us later, “I was leaving out of state, and I was with some guy. But I ended up going to the hospital.”
The Collaborative to End Human Trafficking showed us photos from years ago. Signs inside Hopkins Airport like the ones about human trafficking that are up at the airport in Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale and Salt Lake City, to name a few.
The Collaborative to End Human Trafficking told the I-Team it had to pay tens of thousands of dollars to keep those signs up in the past. The Collaborative says it had to rent space used by advertisers, and the money ran out.
So, the group has been looking for a way to revive the awareness campaign.
Kirsti Mouncey said, “We’d love to partner with someone to recognize this is something we can do together.”
The I-Team began investigating what could be done to help. Then we went straight to the acting director of Hopkins Airport.
Dennis Kramer said he’d like to find out more. So, we put him in touch with the Collaborative To End Human Trafficking.
“We’d be happy to discuss any signage or anything that they’d be interested in doing with this,” Kramer said.
He added, “Absolutely, would love to speak with them more, and they can reach out to me or whoever…”
Now, a meeting has already been arranged to move this forward.
“This is important to us to have that campaign back,” Mouncey said.
Meantime, a human trafficking survivor also spoke out about the importance of those signs.
Rachel Socorro thought back to when she had passed through Hopkins Airport while still under the control of a trafficker.
She said, “Yeah, I landed right here. Cleveland Hopkins airport. And I found myself 50 feet from entering back into my trafficker’s car. And I just think if there had been something along the way that could’ve helped me recognize truly what situation I was in, would that have made a difference, then?”
Rachel told us, sometimes victims need a reminder of what they’re really involved in, and that they can get out. Not as easy as calling 911. So, a sign about human trafficking with a phone number for help could be critical.
“When you’re told every day, ‘I own you. If you leave, you’ll die. There is no way out,’ that’s what we call classic conditioning. And I just wondered what my eyes would have landed on. A wording, or messaging, or visual that would have been that ‘click’ that made me stop and pause. How much is a human being worth? Just one?” Rachel shared.
We’ll follow up to see what plans develop on this at Hopkins Airport.