ORLANDO, Fla. – The Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MIB) arrested three people, accused of human trafficking in Orlando. They said the suspects forced three teenage girls to have sex with numerous men.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has rescued a victim of human trafficking, and another potential victim, from falling into the dangerous life of sex trafficking. In total, deputies made more than 300 contacts and arrested 18 people, half of which are accused of traveling to meet underage victims.
Kevin Malone, CEO of USIAHT, just finished a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Kevin was able to tell him about the crisis of human trafficking in the United States and about our Safe Home for boys. We are thankful to have powerful allies in this fight!
A Senate bill aimed at cracking down on prostitution and human trafficking in Florida cleared its final committee Tuesday afternoon, sending it to the House floor. The bill bans hourly rates at hotels, motels and vacation rentals and raises the first-time penalty for those paying for sex from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Detectives across several Polk County law enforcement agencies were involved in an undercover operation focused on finding victims of human trafficking. After six days, they said they arrested a total of 102 suspects.
Among those suspects were 36 individuals who offered to commit prostitution. Detectives said two were identified as possible human trafficking victims. In addition, a 17-year-old arrived at the undercover location and was rescued, Sheriff Grady Judd said Thursday morning.
TAMPA — Detectives arrested seven people, seized $750,000 in cash and luxury vehicles, and broke up a prostitution ring operating from at least 12 local massage parlors, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said.
The U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT) is making an urgent plea for the state’s help to care for an oftentimes forgotten population: boy victims of sex trafficking.The nonprofit runs the only safe house in the country dedicated to male trafficking victims under the age of 18.
TAMPA, Fla. — A penalty meant to punish sex buyers and help child victims is falling short.
I-Team Investigator Kylie McGivern spent the last four months digging into state and county records, following the money and found a disconnect between the arrest, prosecution and collection of a fine meant to help kids in Florida safe houses.
In the fight against human trafficking, a local nonprofit says there are forgotten victims — boys.
The I-Team went inside a Central Florida safe house that’s the first of its kind in the country, the only home serving boy victims of sex trafficking.
“They’re often a forgotten victim of trafficking because we don’t allow them to be the victim,” U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT) Executive Director John Long said.
Long runs the boys safe house for the non-profit, faith-based organization.
“We think that these boys are willing participants, that it’s a victimless crime, if the boy didn’t want to do it, the boy wouldn’t do it. But we know that that’s not true,” Long said.
A federal grand jury has indicted a Hollywood man and a Miami Gardens woman for the alleged sex trafficking of a 16-year-old girl.
Frantz Mersier, 30, and Paula Barboza, 25, are accused of offering a place to stay to the teenager who was a runaway from a group home, prosecutors said. According to court documents, Mersier took in the girl Dec. 6 and said she could sleep on the couch. He eventually had sex with the teen and set her up for prostitution in the three days that followed.
Barboza took naked photographs of the girl and posted them on websites known to advertise for prostitution. Then, Mersier and Barboza sold the teen for sex to four different men in Broward for $100 each. On Dec. 9, the girl called a relative and law enforcement came to get her later that day.
Miami Beach Police Department officers arrested seven men on Thursday night after an investigation that lasted weeks resulted in two search warrants at two apartment buildings along the 700th block of Jefferson Avenue in South Beach. On Feb. 17, a 23-year-old victim of human trafficking that was trapped in the area called 911 to ask for help just before a severe beating.
The victim told officers she was struggling with suicidal ideations and described how she had been trapped in a cycle of abuse, prostitution, and addiction since the coronavirus pandemic began, police said.
The Salvation Army is partnering with Catholic Charities to provide housing for victims of sex and human trafficking crimes.
The safe house is secure and not open to the public, but professionals provide meals, life-skill classes, and case management for the victims. The new grant gave Catholic Charities half a million dollars and a partnership with the Salvation Army which will allow them to house victims anywhere between 6-24 months.
Tampa, Fla. – Today, the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT) announced results from Project ReachOut to provide services to victims and potential victims of sex trafficking during Super Bowl LV week in Tampa.
Utilizing integrated online technologies to allow victims of trafficking and individuals at high risk of being trafficked, to reach local service providers, Project Reach Out distributed over 5,800 text messages resulting in 4,325 contacts with victims and potential victims.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office seized the opportunity and made a record number of arrests during the Super Bowl week, as well as the recovery of six individuals believed to be victims of human trafficking. Throughout the course of the investigation dubbed “Operation Game Over,” which started Monday, February 1, 2021 and ended Saturday, February 6, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested a total of 75 people who were seeking to either buy or sell sex.
Local governments also have backed efforts to prevent human trafficking and to raise public awareness about the issue, with county boards in Pasco and Hillsborough counties declaring January as human trafficking awareness month.
Natalie Kehn, director of outreach for the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, works to cast a spotlight on the problem, to promote education and prevention efforts and to seek help for people who have been victimized by the crime.
The U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking would like to thank ABC News and Jackie Callaway for the opportunity to show the continued efforts we are doing with putting an end to human trafficking. The U. S. Institute Against Human Trafficking uses specialized software to find and reach victims virtually, said Natalie Kehn, director of operations for the organization, who runs its “Project Reach Out.” The institute uses the software to scrape tens of thousands of locally posted sex ads.
TAMPA (WFLA) – Super Bowls bring excitement, big personalities, and big money to town when the games are played. Experts on human trafficking say they also bring opportunities for the exploitation of vulnerable people.
“It can happen at any kind of big event where you are going to have a lot of men in one area away from their families,” said Micah Washinski with the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking.
The U. S. Institute Against Human Trafficking uses specialized software to find and reach victims virtually, said Natalie Kehn, director of operations for the organization, who runs its “Project Reach Out.” The institute uses the software to scrape tens of thousands of locally posted sex ads.
Jacksonville FL — In a press conference promoting human trafficking awareness
Tuesday, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams announced that Jacksonville Police, along with other community partners, were involved in rescuing or identifying 35 victims of human trafficking locally in 2020. Williams says of those 35, 8 were juveniles. Those numbers are up from 2019. We reported last year when JSO announced 19 people were rescued in 2019.
The U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT), in partnership with the law firm of Serrano | McGuire, is launching the first of its kind online campaign to intercept online sex buyers looking to purchase sex during events leading up to Super Bowl LV on Sunday, February 7, 2021, in Tampa, Florida.
Operation Stomp Out will utilize integrated online technologies to disrupt sex trafficking operations as traffickers and sex buyers descend on Tampa during the two weeks surrounding Super Bowl LV.
“The Super Bowl brings thousands of sex buyers, traffickers, and victims to the host city every year, and we expect Tampa to be no different,” said USIAHT Chairman Kevin Malone. “We are fully prepared to intervene in sex trafficking operations using the most advanced technology available to stop the purchase of sex before it happens and provide resources to victims.”
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Twenty-two suspects were arrested after multiple law enforcement agencies in Tampa Bay teamed up to crack down on human trafficking.
Undercover detectives set up at an undisclosed motel and responded to online ads for commercial sex that had human trafficking indicators. When those responding to the ads showed up to the motel to engage in prostitution, they were screened to see if they were potential human trafficking victims.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested more than two dozen unlicensed contractors throughout a 10-day sting. The undercover operation was conducted in Sun City Center, an area where many elderly residents often fall victim to cons and scams, including construction fraud. Among the 27 people arrested, was a high-risk sexual offender on felony probation and a man who showed up to work with cocaine in his possession.
Dozens of kids were rescued in “Operation Not Forgotten” this week. While most of the activity in the investigation was in the Atlanta area, WSB-TV reports that three arrests were made right here in Pinellas County. The two week search for missing children was an effort to find victims of sex trafficking. In all there were 9 arrests. Three of them were at an unnamed motel in Clearwater.
James Garcia has been charged with aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy and incest with a minor. WSB reports a U.S. Marshal Senior Inspector says Garcia was found in the Clearwater motel with a missing 3 year old.
MIAMI — A 17-year-old South Florida boy is facing sex trafficking charges after being accused of selling a 14-year-old girl on social media. Miami Springs police officers were called to the Runway Motel on Tuesday night to check on a teenage girl who had run away from home after a family dispute.
MIAMI (AP) — A 17-year-old South Florida boy is facing sex trafficking charges after being accused of selling a 14-year-old girl on social media.
Miami Springs police officers were called to the Runway Motel on Tuesday night to check on a teenage girl who had run away from home after a family dispute, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office told news outlets.
According to Jackson County, Fla., Sheriff’s deputies identified the suspect as Domingo Morales Hamilton Fernando. During the investigation, it was learned Fernando was in the United States illegally and is wanted for deportation from the United States. Homeland Security agents told deputies that Fernando is suspected of being involved in human trafficking.
Tallahassee, Florida– At least 13 have been arrest in a major investigation involving allegations of child sex abuse and human trafficking. Court personnel mentioned that the cases are the result of a Tallahassee Police Department investigation dating back to 2018.
West Palm Beach, Florida — A man is accused of trafficking two women across multiple states, including in Florida. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office arrested 30-year-old Derrion Kirby early Saturday morning. According to the sheriff’s office, deputies responded to La Quinta Hotel on Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach for a human trafficking complaint where an 18-year-old woman was being held against her will.
Hillsborough County, Florida — As the state reopens following the coronvirus pandemic, Hillsborough County is ramping up plans for Super Bowl LV. As part of the preparations, County Commissioner Kimberly Overman led the effort to form the Commission on Human Trafficking.
Orlando, Florida– A Melbourne criminal defense attorney accused of using his law firm as a prostitution front is facing more human trafficking charges, based on allegations that he had sex with an underage girl in exchange for legal services he provided to her pimp.
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution confirmed Wednesday that John Gillespie, 71, is facing additional counts of trafficking a juvenile for commercial sex and trafficking an adult for commercial sex.
Miami, Florida– Police arrested a South Florida man they say allegedly forced a young woman into prostitution and sex trafficking across the area. “Human trafficking is always a very ugly crime. The traffickers, wanting those dollars, are continuously looking for young victims because that’s where they feel the money is,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Fortunately, the Miami-Dade law enforcement community is united together to fight such predators.”
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Human traffickers aren’t stopping despite the health threats from COVID-19—and neither will we cease our efforts to stop them. It is abhorrent that unscrupulous individuals would take advantage of the pandemic and try to lure people through the use of force, fraud or coercion for nefarious purposes when so many find themselves on hard times. We need to continue to be vigilant in our fight to combat human trafficking. Know the signs of human trafficking, and if you see something, say something
A central Florida attorney is accused of operating a human trafficking ring out of his Melbourne home. He trafficked young girls as young as 15. He said they needed to pay off legal fees and rent for staying at his home. He was recently arrested when he was going to pay a 16 year old girl to have sex with him, and try to recruit the girl to live with him at his home. He is facing charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, unlawful use of a two-way communication device and human trafficking of a minor.
In Tampa, Florida experts believe sex trafficking is not slowing down even with the pandemic of COVID-19. In fact Connie Rose who is the executive director of Victims to Survivors thinks that it is actually growing from this virus. Since predators are able to spend more time online luring and grooming children especially those who are in poor living conditions with family instability
With Covid-19 going on, human trafficking isn’t stopping in Jacksonville, Florida. A news team in Jacksonville spoke with a woman who is currently living in a hotel and said she is working to keep food on the table and a roof over her head. The woman said she’s worried about running into serial killers and rapists. Advocates for sex-trafficking victims contend that there’s a growing demand for the sex trade despite the risks posed by coronavirus.
As Tampa bay, Florida practices social distance due to the virus and staying home to do the orders local nonprofits are concerned about who they can help. Now they are moving things online to help the victims of human trafficking that they can no longer meet in person. With all the students being online now at least until May, training is being enforced for adults to look for red flags to look for in social media. 70% of sex trafficking in minors starts online.
Over the next few months and into next year, there are major sporting events heading to the Tampa Bay area in Florida. WrestleMania and the Super Bowl. The adult businesses in the area must 3make sure they are complying with a human trafficking ordinance. Teams in Hillsborough Counties are looking to check to see if they have signs that are the right size and show the correct information at strip clubs and massage parlors. These signs must be displayed in different languages as well. If business are not in compliance, they will get a notice that says they have 30 days to update or they could be cited.
TAMPA (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side’s “Storefronts for Sex” investigation triggered a crackdown on illicit health spas in Tampa. Compliance teams are doing a sweep of spas, parlors and adult businesses across Hillsborough County. They are checking the human trafficking signage at these establishments all week long.
The new red and white signs, which state the National Human Trafficking Resource Center phone number 1-888-373-7888, must be clearly visible to customers and workers. A business that fails to have the proper signs will face a $265 fine.
A Scores strip club in Florida employed a “severely” disabled 17-year-old sex trafficking victim with a fake ID and allowed her to be groped and molested by grownup males, a scathing lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges.
The woman, recognized in courtroom papers as Jane Doe, was developmentally 13 years outdated when her trafficker introduced her to the chain’s Tampa location. For the following three days, the minor was plied with Xanax and booze by the club and different dancers, supplied cocaine and was pressured to carry out “sexually express acts.”
Four men have been arrested in St. Petersburg, Florida for a range of child sex crimes. These men were communicating online with who they thought were children however, they were undercover detectives. The four men range in ages from 27-54. All four of these men were released from jail after paying the bail.
The next 12 months will be a busy time for Tampa, Florida. Two major sporting events are coming, and the city is preparing for them now. WrestleMania and the Super Bowl will bring in thousands of sports fans to the city. Major sporting events like this can attract more illegal sex trade. Hillsborough County created a commission on human tracking, and they met for the first time this week. They crated a hero program which is designed for the community and business to look out for signs.
After rescuing seven goats from a slaughterhouse, Rob and Debbie Canton are now helping raise money and awareness for human trafficking in the Tampa Bay area after reading a blog post from Bill Gates that said “Can Goats Empower Women?”
The project began in India to help women gain an income and become less vulnerable to fraudulent job officers. Proceeds from the goat sculptures that project G.O.A.T. sells will go to organizations that help fight human trafficking both locally and globally. There are currently 56 goat sculptures that have been made in advance which are scheduled to be sold for the Super Bowl LVI.
Following Super Bowl 54 in Miami, Florida twenty-two women trapped in human trafficking were rescued over Super Bowl weekend. The victims were all female ranging from ages of 15 to 38. Four of the victims were from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, 14 from other states and four from foreign countries. Five people were charged with trafficking and three of them on federal crimes. Eight buyers were also arrested. With the joined forces of local, state and federal agencies it was a success said a special agent of Homeland Security.
In Tampa, Florida a man was convicted in 2019 involving a minor. He told the judge that he kept hearing voices. Court records show that they met with another man at an apartment complex. A search warrant shows text messaging showing the location of the meet up and the price. Also, with the phone records they came across websites used for prostitution.
A student organization group at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida held a conference on human trafficking to educate students and others who wanted to learn more about this issue. There were many guest speakers who talked about different topics in human trafficking. The history on human trafficking and the laws on human trafficking. Case studies were read that the audience interacted with. This conference was put on by the TOT which is Triumph Over Trafficking.
Car Credit Tampa is a used car dealership in Tampa, Florida and they donated $2,000 in cash to a charitable organization to assist in their efforts. Gulfcoast Legal Services, Inc. was the award winner. GLS has distinguished themselves in the area, steadily demonstrating their dedication to serving vulnerable individuals in the county. GLS serves those living in poverty, low-wage workers, persons with disabilities, veterans, the homeless, the LGBTQ community, victims of domestic violence or human trafficking, and the elderly. GLS provides assistance to the Hispanic community via civil legal assistance in the areas of immigration, human trafficking, family law, financial stability, and housing.
A 47-year old Facebook moderator in Tampa, Florida is suing Facebook for his PTSD from watching graphic content. Content moderator’s watch graphic content all day. In July 2019, he had to take a leave of absence from his job after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Other Facebook workers are saying that the hours of other disturbing content are harming their mental health.
Mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder are common in trafficking victims, said Joan Reid, a licensed mental health counselor and an associate professor of criminology at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority was awarded $43,630 in federal grants to train PTSA employees to recognize the signs of human trafficking. Human traffickers know they need to operate in the shadows, and they use public transportation to move the victims. The bus drivers and transit employees operate on the frontline in the fight of human trafficking. Florida is third in human trafficking behind California and Texas. With Pinellas County, Florida receiving this grant the numbers will drop.
A tattoo shop in Inverness, Florida is helping after they found out that woman and children are being branded and sold for sex in the Tampa Bay area. This has led to tattoo shops from Bradenton to Orlando offering services to cover up tattoos to victims. Twisted Ink was named part of Survivor’s Ink Network of tattoo shops. “The national nonprofit helps human trafficking victims remove brandings.” They will cover the cost of the tattoo and the artist.
A 38-year-old man was arrested in Tampa, Florida one count of human trafficking. This man few a 21-year-old woman to Tampa from Nebraska for the week. When the victim met with police, she said he was helping her become a plus size model for lingerie and swimsuits. She states when she was at the hotel she did not engage in any activity and she used her own money to keep the man happy.
The city of Tampa, Florida is getting ready for next years Super Bowl. The last time the Super Bowl was held in Tampa, was in 2009. Since 2009, the Tampa Bay police have added new features to their department. They now have the Real Time Crime Center, where the staff can monitor any city-owned camera. The Department of Homeland Security have reports that teach lessons for the Super Bowl.
A lawsuit filed Wednesday accuses a Tampa. FL. strip club of hiring and exploiting an underage girl with disabilities and allowing her to be groped and propositioned with sex acts by customers. through Scores. The lawsuit states. The victim is described in the suit as a “developmentally disabled and severely emotionally disabled teenager,” who functions at the mental capacity of a 13-year-old and required extensive medical and mental health care throughout her youth.
Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez has teamed up with the NFL as part of the “Stop Sex Trafficking Campaign”. It will educate the public on signs on potential trafficking with visual materials. The NFL, law enforcement, and government agencies as well as over 300 state and local businesses, have joined forces for this campaign. Also, flight attendants, hotel, and rideshare employees will be trained. Sunday February 2nd is the Super Bowl and in Miami. FL. there will be an influx number of visitors in the city.
The state of Florida ranks third in the county for human trafficking and it is up 25%. With the Super Bowl being in Miami this year, law enforcement agencies are on high alert. This is good news that people are on high alert. Selah Freedom is a national anti-trafficking organization based out of Sarasota. They’ve helped train law enforcement and they helped in the Super Bowl in Houston. This year, the support is even larger. You will see the number posted everywhere. Large sporting events drive human trafficking up 10 times more than usual. Selah Freedom is in Sarasota, Florida and the Sarasota Police Department is setting the benchmark and keeping traffickers away.
70 law enforcement officers and agents were involved in the operation. Those agencies included officers from the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office, Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force, Washington State Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, Everett Police Department, the FBI and the NCIS.
A Scores strip club in Florida hired a “severely” disabled 17-year-old sex trafficking victim with a fake ID and allowed her to be groped and molested by adult men, a scathing lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges.
The St. Petersburg Police Department announced the establishment of a regional human trafficking task force Wednesday, after the agency received a $741,556 federal grant and 8 On Your Side is digging deeper into this growing problem in Florida.
“It’s very likely that this arrest saved her life,” said Hillsborough County, FL. Sheriff Chad Chronister. “Once in custody, the 18-year-old woman told deputies she was being held against her will by Fried.” Fried used force, fraud and coercion to manipulate the victim to perform sexual acts at various locations within Hillsborough County.
A 28 year old woman was placing advertisements of an 18 year old girl on adult escorting sites around Tampa, Florida. Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies arrested the 28 year old and 18 year old but on different charges. That is where the sheriffs learned that she was being held against her will, they say the arrest saved her life. The victim was released and connected to Selah Freedom.
The war against sex trafficking is going high tech and the Tampa based U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking in Tampa has picked social media as its weapon of choice when it comes to deterring sex buyers. Natalie Kehn, who works on outreach for the group, said the nonprofit combs through thousands of online sex ads and messages potential trafficking victims.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) branches in Tampa and Atlanta launched human trafficking awareness outreach campaigns in recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
“It’s like branding cattle,” said Cpl. Alan Wilkett, who leads Pasco County, Florida’s human trafficking task force. “It’s an ownership mark. Branding is when somebody — a pimp or a trafficker — will put his mark or his symbol or his sign on his victims through some sort of tattoo.”
“From back three years ago, our caseload has tripled,” said Erika Pineros, with Catholic Charities anti-human trafficking program. “It’s like a taboo subject at times and it shouldn’t be because unfortunately it is happening and the most vulnerable population are minors.”
The city’s authorities are training hotel workers, security guards, Uber drivers and truckers to spot the signs that a person might be a victim of trafficking, since these are the people most likely to cross paths with them and have a chance to alert police.
Hillsborough County, FL. Court documents show 40-year-old Rudy Siam made a 14-year-old friend on the Grindr app. But the conversation quickly turns explicit. What Siam doesn’t know is he’s actually texting an undercover Hillsborough County deputy.The purpose of the operation was to find “offenders who use the internet and social media to sexually exploit children,” according to the documents. The two apps they used were Grindr and Whisper.
In 2012, she announced an aggressive initiative to make Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking and modern-day slavery. From there, she forged partnerships with private businesses, community organizations and the Florida Legislature to raise awareness, teach how to spot the signs of human trafficking and pass legislation to strengthen laws.
“This happens to men too,” she said. “I’m working with a man who was taken to Texas. He was held in a pen and had to sleep near the animals. He was fed about every three days. He finally made it back home to his family. Now he’s getting the help he needs.”
With Superbowl LIV less than 2 months away, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced today in West Palm Beach that Florida will not tolerate human trafficking and she’s asking for the public’s assistance in identifying it.
The goal of the operation, Polk County, FL. Sheriff Grady Judd said, was to “identify victims of human trafficking and those who prey on victims, as well as the deviant child predators who stalk children online.”
The six-day sting targeted prostitution, human trafficking and child predators – busting 124 people. The charges included: solicitation, using a computer to lure a child and traveling to meet a minor for sex. , Sheriff Judd of Polk County, FL. explained counselors were immediately available for those who appeared to be human trafficking victims.
Weeks after a human trafficking sting netted more than 100 arrests in Hillsborough County, FL. commissioners took a step Wednesday to eradicate forced labor, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation within its borders.
Hillsborough County deputies recently arrested more than 100 people in connection with a five-month-long undercover investigation surrounding human trafficking. 8 On Your Side is now digging deeper into this growing problem in Florida.
Sheriff Chad Chronister, with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in FL, said among the most disturbing arrests involved Jason Fitzgerald, 36, and Luis Colon, 29. An undercover detective posed as a stepfather with a 14-year-old girl, and arranged a time for the two men to perform sex acts on the fictitious child. The sheriff said the acts they requested to do are “so repulsive, that I won’t even begin to describe them.”
South Florida man, William Foster, 48, formed a fake nonprofit called “Foster’s Care.” Its sophisticated website claimed it provided free service to victims of human trafficking. Foster targeted young women in group homes, shelters, or those working at strip clubs, particularly low-end ones, where the teens were likely to have violent pimps they wanted to escape.
Sgt. Roger Thomas, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, got a “Back the Blue” award Wednesday from Attorney General Ashley Moody. Sgt. Thomas worked beyond his midnight shift to identify the 17-year-old and reunite her with family.
After a recent grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime to fight human trafficking, the International Rescue Committee will work with the Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center on awareness and outreach, as well as offer trauma-informed services to trafficking survivors throughout Leon County, FL, and nearby rural communities.
The Senate Education Committee unanimously passed the bill on Tuesday. The curriculum would be part of public schools’ health education and would focus on how to recognize and understand human trafficking.
Florida law that passed in 2013 allows victims of human trafficking to clear records of arrests that resulted, but process can be slow and complicated. The Justice Restoration Center in Dunedin, FL, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping trafficking victims erase criminal records. Executive director Brent Woody said Florida has the best such law in the nation, and his organization has worked with more than 200 victims.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida says its frequent prostitution stings help curtail human trafficking. But cases are complex and difficult to prove, so few arrests result in prosecutions on trafficking charges.
Anthony J. Miles, of Crestview, FL, recruited the child, provided addictive drugs to the child, and arranged for hotel rooms where he would keep the child to set up appointments with people seeking sexual favors.
“Thanks to many years in the fight, nonprofits have the insight and resources needed to craft effective legislation and policies. USIAHT, for instance, offers a program called the “TraffickingFree Zone” that equips businesses, churches, counties and other communities to reduce demand and combat trafficking.” writes Sharon Bates, an abolitionist with the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking.
Alfred Spaulding, 32, of Ocala, FL, pleaded guilty to human trafficking and other charges. When detectives interviewed Spaulding, he admitted to profiting from his female victim’s sex acts, giving her drugs, and hitting her.
This month, Florida became the first state in the nation requiring sex-trafficking education as part of every student’s curriculum. “Tragically, human trafficking is an epidemic in our country,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said upon passage of the new rule. “Children of all ages need to know and understand the hazards of human trafficking and how to protect themselves from dangerous predators.”
Pace Center for Girls has a specific focus on preventing sex trafficking. Pace Center for Girls works towards long-term solutions by building resiliency through gender-responsive services and support (including physical health, mental health, legal, and education); social emotional learning; and developing coping skills in a safe and trusted environment.
The website allowed customers paying for sex to buy upgraded accounts where they would be able to read and write prostitute reviews, send private messages to prostitutes and view which prostitutes were currently available. Some of the women advertised for escort and prostitution services were minors, authorities said.
Florida will be the first state to require schools to teach K-12 students about child trafficking prevention after the state’s Board of Education unanimously approved the rule on Monday. No other state to date has required that schools provide a human trafficking prevention education. Geoff Rogers, CEO and co-founder of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, commended Florida for its leadership. “We hope more states will follow their lead as we seek to put an end to this terrible crime in the United States,” Rogers said.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office in Sarasota, Florida arrested 23 people during a four-day initiative focused on protecting Sarasota County children from online predators and human trafficking. Suspects ranging in ages from 21 to 77 responded to internet-based ads, online apps, and social media sites to engage in sexually explicit conversations and traveled with the intent of having sex with a male or female child. One of the suspects, John Inga, was visiting Florida from Oklahoma and drove from Lakeland to Sarasota to meet who he believed was a 14-year-old child.
State leaders, law enforcement and experts in the field of trafficking joined survivors at the Human Trafficking Summit Monday in Orlando. Speaking at the summit, Governor Ron DeSantis said ending sex trafficking begins with prosecuting traffickers and clients.