From the City of SeaTac:

Human trafficking is an issue in our region and the City of SeaTac continues to take it seriously through a multi-pronged approach.

Over the years, the City has championed bills and more in the legislative session to combat human trafficking. SeaTac has also joined the Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking (BEST) campaign, which is aimed at supporting human trafficking victims. BEST is a Seattle-based nonprofit that provides human trafficking awareness training and helps survivors find employment.

According to BEST, 43 percent of sex-trafficking victims are Black females and 57 percent of labor-trafficking victims are foreign nationals. According to SeaTac police, the area has also seen an increase of human trafficking cases to the tune of 1.1 million active advertisements in the greater Seattle area. Depending on the day, there are often more than 3,000 active online advertisements linked to sex trafficking in SeaTac alone.

The City continues to make human trafficking a priority in its legislative agendas each year.

City resources

The City also regularly works and partners with nonprofits to support our community, including allocating 1.5 percent of the unrestricted annual budget to fund programs that offer the support to address this specific issue. For our 2023-2024 budget, SeaTac provided funding to 37 programs, including groups that support victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking, such as the Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (DAWN) and the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC).

DAWN, which was given $9,000, specializes in case management, provides shelter and has a crisis line. KCSARC, which specializes in advocacy, received $5,000. The Genesis Project, which specializes in case management, received $15,000 from the City.

Police operations

Late in 2023, signs were posted in certain parts of SeaTac that were designated as “Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution” sections of the City. These signs are required by RCW to impound the vehicles of suspects arrested for prostitution/human trafficking offenses.

The signs also make it possible for police to impound these vehicles and will hopefully deter potential human-trafficking offenders from engaging in activity inside the City.

Police often encounter victims of human trafficking in a variety of ways, including calls for service, proactive operations and family requests. These interventions can start with a call from a concerned employee, reporting suspicious activity at a hotel regarding a missing juvenile.

Police will locate, interview and investigate human-trafficking crimes, while providing follow-up care for victims so that they feel safe. Local and national nonprofits also assist in this effort, providing transportation, treatment and often extended care. These resources are extremely valuable when rescuing juvenile victims who are without basic necessities or a residence.

Police are looking to partner with more resources and groups to assist with juvenile victims that may require long-term mental and physical care. Human trafficking is a multifaceted crime that requires a dynamic approach to successfully support victims with the ultimate goal of prosecution for the suspect and life improvement for the victim.