HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Grains of red sand were poured in the cracks and crevices outside the Howard County George Howard Building on Monday to make people stop and think about a crime that often goes unnoticed.

“Too often there are those that aren’t even aware that human trafficking is an issue,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball.

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January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and on Monday, officials and survivors said they wanted the “Red Sand Ceremony” to show human trafficking victims that they aren’t being forgotten.

Forty million people around the world are impacted by human trafficking.

“I want people to know that there is hope. We all have a role to play in fighting this issue, so let us just play our roles, whatever that is,” said Shamere McKenzie, CEO of Sun Gate Foundation.

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The red sand represents those that fall through the cracks of human trafficking.

“Because of our general affluence and wealth a lot of people don’t think Howard County as a place where human trafficking is a concern, however, when you look at our roadways that are traveled, it is so easy to target anyone who is a vulnerable population.” Ball said.

To combat it, the county created a human trafficking coordinating council. Local police are also working in areas where vulnerable people might be targeted and are working to show people how to get help and how to report it.

“I like to tell people (to) get educated on this subject matter so that when you see it, you can report it,” McKenzie said.

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And if you think you see human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline or Howard County Police if you’re in that area.

Stetson Miller