INTERVIEW: Local private investigator teaches public how to avoid falling victim to human trafficking

Image Courtesy: Sarah Marshall, Off the Grid Investigations

Sarah Marshall is the lead investigator and business owner of Off the Grid Investigations in Idaho Falls. She has extensive military training in Global Command and Control, Military Intelligence, Man-Hunting, and is a Security Specialist. Marshall spoke with Neal Larson and Julie Mason on KID Newsradio about how human sex trafficking is manifest in east Idaho and what people can do to protect themselves.

You can listen to the full interview below.



IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — A local private investigator is teaching the public how to protect themselves against human trafficking in east Idaho.

“Human trafficking is a much bigger issue in this area than the public knows about,” Sarah Marshall, lead investigator at Off the Grid Investigations in Idaho Falls, told KID Newsradio. “This is something that I think is very important that the public knows about.”

Experts widely recognize human trafficking as the fastest growing crime in the world. In 2016, the Polaris Project said they saw a 35 percent increase in human trafficking cases from the previous year.

A heat map showing calls made to National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline in 2016 | Photo Courtesy: Polaris Project

Marshall says Idaho is not exempt from the horrors of human trafficking and people need to not only be aware that it’s happening, but how to know when they are being identified as a potential victim by traffickers.

“If you are being looked at to be trafficked as an adult or if your children are being looked at…they will actually hunt you for a period of time to determine if you want the type of person that they want as a victim,” Marshall said.

In an effort to educate the public, Marshall says she puts on a monthly workshop to teach people the signs that they might be a target for traffickers or how to spot the signs of trafficking in the people around them.

“We teach people how to look out for themselves,” Marshall said. “We teach people how to use non lethal self defense to defend themselves…I teach people how to defend themselves using their bodies as well and it takes about an hour, hour and a half, every fourth Saturday of the month and it’s just a one time workshop, but it is the fourth Saturday of every month at two o’clock.”

Disrupting human sex trafficking isn’t just about learning to lookout for oneself or employ defense techniques. Marshall says people are often sold into the human sex trafficking industry by their parents or the victims themselves, in order to earn more money for drugs.

“Well, one of the main ways that this happens in east Idaho is the parents themselves will actually traffick their children for drugs, for all sorts of reasons, mainly drugs, drug money,” Marshall said. “It’s very disturbing…I have had eight cases total this year involving young ladies trafficking their bodies and parents trafficking their children…that’s in my office alone.”

But, parents and community members aren’t left defenseless to help these victims. Marshall says there are clear signs of human sex trafficking that people can learn and look out for.

“[Are they acting] shy, do they lie a lot, are they stealing, are the hiding food; primarily those are the big changes in personality and appearance, they’re very, very thin, they wear baggy clothes, are they dirty,” Marshall said. “Quite often these children suffer huge signs of neglect and they’re not being fed properly, they’re withheld food. Some of them haven’t slept in a bed for days on end.”

Marshall will be hosting a booth at the March 14 event, Emancipation: Disrupting the Modern Slave Trade, along with several other local resources and organizations in east Idaho committed to disrupting human sex trafficking.