TAMPA, Fla. — Florida’s big push to end human trafficking was the focus of a statewide summit that kicked off Tuesday, Oct. 6.
For the first time, Florida’s Human Trafficking Summit went virtual this year, offering more speakers and opportunities for residents of all 67 Florida counties and a total of 38 states to attend, according to organizers.
“Because the criminals who exploit women, men and children for profit are in no way deterred by this pandemic, we are here virtually, because we all want to keep our families and communities safe,” said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.
For months, the ABC Action News I-Team has uncovered human trafficking in our community, often hidden from sight.
We’ve exposed everything from children lured through online gaming and held as sex slaves to victims beaten, branded and sold dozens of times a day.
Law enforcement now focusing on the upcoming Super Bowl coming to Tampa next February.
“While the Super Bowl is just one day, we have to be vigilant well in advance of the big game to get our message across that human trafficking will not be tolerated,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, one of the presenters at the summit.
In this year’s Super Bowl in Miami, 20 victims of human trafficking were recovered, including four girls under 18.
Officers charged four people with human trafficking.
Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies are already conducting stings leading to dozens of arrests.
They have been targeting traffickers advertising sex for sale on online.
“We’re able to track these ads and you can see them moving from Miami to Orlando to Jacksonville and then finally into Tampa,” an undercover officer said during the presentation.
He said deputies have rescued trafficking victims in motels, massage parlors and strip clubs.
“They were withholding some of her personal property which is a huge thing. Withholding driver’s license or withholding credit cards, debit cards, birth certificates, passports,” he said.
“As we get closer to the Super Bowl, our goal is to get the message out as often as possible, to as many people as we can reach that human trafficking will not be tolerated in Hillsborough County,” the undercover officer told summit attendees.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said there were nearly 900 cases in Florida reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline last year.
Here is the I-Team’s special coverage of Human Trafficking in the Tampa Bay region: KIDS SOLD FOR SEX
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