News
6:36 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Florida Starts First Human Trafficking Council

Florida is among the busiest states for calls to the Human Trafficking Hotline. The number is 888-373-7888, and it's free.
Credit Imagens Evangelicas/flickr

Millions of people around the world are being forced into sex and hard labor. It's even happening here. 

Florida ranks third behind New York and California for the number of human trafficking cases. So, the Florida Legislature created the 15-member Statewide Council on Human Trafficking last spring. The panel, chaired by Attorney General Pam Bondi, held its first meeting Monday in Tallahassee.

Bondi says while many victims are brought to Florida from other countries, most of them are from the U.S.

“A lot of the kids are runaways. A lot of the kids have been bumped from foster home to foster home. A lot of the kids have aged out of foster care and have nowhere to go," Bondi says. "They end up in strip clubs. They’re immediately addicted to drugs to keep them captive.”

Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll says adults are also targeted.

“This is a crime that can impact anybody at anytime, and it’s not just commercial sex trafficking," Carroll says. "That’s what gets a lot of the headlines, but it also speaks to forced labor and all the things that entails.”

The statewide council will meet over the next two years. Members will come up with recommendations for prosecuting traffickers and providing services for the victims.