BOZEMAN — The Bozeman Yellowstone International airport is participating in a survey in an effort to prevent human trafficking via air travel.
“Is it happening, are we having girls that we know are coming in on airplanes - yes. They then are typically setting up ads in Bozeman and Billings where they have major airports,” Andrew Yedinak said.
Yedinak is the Supervisor for the Montana Department’s Division of Crime Investigation and relays that trafficking can happen anywhere.
“It is here, and unfortunately it’s growing. It has grown every single year for the past several years. And it’s a problem we are going to continue to deal with as more and more people continue to move to the state,” Yedinak said.
Some of these victims come and go from the state in a rented or owned vehicle, while others are transported via airplanes, Yedinak said.
Participating in a survey from United Against Slavery offers the Bozeman airport staff a chance to reflect on their knowledge and understand how to identify a victim, Lisa Burgwin said.
Burgwin is the Administrative and Marketing Assistant for the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport and has planned on taking part in this survey to fill a lapse in understanding.
“That’s why we want to take this survey, so we can see what people have seen…if there is a victim coming through the airport they can see that there are ways to get help and they can get that help in Bozeman,” Lisa Burgwin said.
While traveling through the airport, there are ways that passengers can help the employees identify who may be at risk.
“When you see a passenger that seems to be under the control of someone else, they’re not allowed to answer questions…when they do speak it sounds rehearsed. They don’t know their travel plans,” Burgwin said.
When training, Yedinak focuses on the defining markers: tattoos. Whether it be diamonds, dollar signs, crowns, or any other money-related tattoo. The way a person carries themselves, for instance, is a man traveling with multiple young women, what are they packing in their luggage, what are they wearing. All signs that something deeper may be at play, Yedinak said.
the survey will relay information April 2022 and the airport hopes they will make changes to the terminal, such as single regarding trafficking.