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Bryan-College Station group fights hotel human trafficking, saving victims

UnBound Now, anti-human trafficking advocacy group is sharing tips with hotels on how to identify traffickers in Bryan/College Station.

BRYAN, Texas — An anti-human trafficking outreach group met with 37 Bryan/College Station hotels on July 30th as part of World Day Against Trafficking in Person.

Bryan-based Unbound Now, a network of anti-human trafficking agencies aimed at spreading awareness about human trafficking in the Bryan and College Station areas.

Unbound in Bryan executive director Amanda Buenge explained the importance of hotel concierges engaging guests in detecting signs of human trafficking.  

According to Buenge, many traffickers use hotels to conduct their illicit business.

"Ask questions, get more information about who's staying in this hotel, why they're staying there, what are they doing. Unbound now which is local here, really teams across the state to bring awareness to hotels and how they're utilized by traffickers," said Buenge.

Texas is home to more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking each year, according to the U.S. Department of Senate.

"If we know that survivors are coming in contact with hotels, frequently as a result of their trafficking, then we want the eyes and ears working in this industry to be aware, ask questions, and be alert," said Buenge.

It was enacted in 2021 by the Texas Legislature that commercial lodging establishment employees must receive annual training on human trafficking. Further, hotels must provide employees with information on how to report human trafficking.

Buenge shared how going virtual almost everywhere because of the pandemic, caused numbers to rise in human trafficking.

Buenge said, "There was an increase in online activity in particular a lot of unmonitored online activity, so we knew it was an increase in online activity."

She stated that Unbound Now has saved close to 80 survivors since it began its survivor advocacy work three years ago. 

In order to achieve their ultimate goal, Unbound Now continues to work and raise awareness in the Bryan and College Station area regarding ways to identify human trafficking in hotels.

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