TULSA, Oklahoma – March 30, 2023 – Tulsa International Airport has partnered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by joining the Blue Lightning Initiative (BLI) to combat against human trafficking. The Blue Lightning Initiative provides awareness training, designed specifically for aviation personnel, on the indicators of human trafficking and how to properly report possible cases to federal law enforcement.
Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. As a global leader in the fight against human trafficking, DHS works to end sex trafficking and forced labor through a wide range of efforts including victim identification and assistance, criminal investigations, civil enforcement actions, intelligence and analysis, training and public education, and external outreach. In FY22 alone, Homeland Security investigated over 1,300 criminal human trafficking cases, made 3,655 arrests, and assisted 765 victims. The BLI is just one element of the DHS Blue Campaign.
To date, more than 200,000 employees in the aviation industry have been trained through the BLI, and actionable tips continue to be reported to law enforcement. The program’s real-time reporting mechanism gives law enforcement the ability to research and analyze information, and to coordinate an appropriate and effective response.
As new partners of the BLI, Tulsa International Airport is hosting training sessions led by DHS for all employees in the terminal, including employees who work for airlines, retail shops, restaurants, rental car companies and other businesses that provide services to passengers at TUL. The airport has also posted human trafficking indicator and reporting signage in all restrooms and has started passing out informational lanyard cards to all airport employees.
“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is eager to partner with the Tulsa International Airport to continue the fight toward ending human trafficking. It is an essential step for the Tulsa Airport to join the 120 plus partners of the BLI and commit to training airport employees using our training module. Everyone can play a role and help raise awareness. In addition, tips generated from our partners can significantly assist in our human trafficking investigations,” said Robert Melton, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the HSI Dallas Oklahoma and Texas Panhandle Division.
“We’re proud to officially partner with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on this effort, and to be able to use their expertise to educate airport employees on human trafficking indicators and to empower them to report possible cases to federal law enforcement,” said Paul Myers, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust. “Human trafficking is a horrific crime that requires several entities to share information and work together to fight.”
It is important to remember that all mediums of transportation can be channels for human trafficking, to remain vigilant when traveling alone, and to vet all online acquaintances. With Tulsa International Airport partnership through an increasing number of with the Blue Lightning Initiative to target human trafficking efforts, traveler safety will increase. Employers and those traveling through our airport are instructed to report suspicious activity to the DHS Tip Line (866) 347-2423. If you suspect you may be a victim of human trafficking please call (866) 373- 7888.