Florida Human Trafficking Issues


Terry Coonan, Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University, left, holds a copy of a human rights report.

Florida Child Abuse Hotline
1-800-962-2873 (1-800-96-ABUSE)

Report: Modern-day slavery alive and well in Florida!

Yvonne, the Screenwriter and Second Unit Director for A Dance For Bethany consulted with Terry Coonan after seeing him interviewed on Cable News along with Michele Gillan about the serious issue of human trafficking.  Links to their websites are located at the bottom of this page.

Human trafficking is somewhat more complicated in Florida, and also California, and in all states that allow migrant workers; however, these states have all the standard human trafficking problems, but with the added substantial migrant labor populations and the intrinsic issues that go with that, which includes human trafficking.

Migrant labor abuse is often terrible enough without the addition of this further crime against people who really do work for a living.

Yvonne and I are both originally from Florida, so Florida human trafficking issues are close to our heart, but unfortunately human trafficking is both a domestic United States problem now as well as a global issue. 

Center for the Advancement of Human Rights:

Florida a leader in modern slavery

Officials think Florida is a top destination for those who traffic in prostitutes and menial laborers.

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) — Modern-day slavery is alive and well in Florida, the head of a human rights center said Tuesday as it released a report on people forced to work as prostitutes, farmworkers and maids across the state.

Human traffickers bring thousands of people into the United States each year and Florida is believed to be one of the top three destinations, along with New York and Texas, according to the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University.

Although there have been several prosecutions of human trafficking in Florida, no one knows how many people in Florida are under the control of traffickers, said Terry Coonan, the center’s Executive Director.

In south Florida, Federal prosecutions have indicated hundreds of farmworkers were victims of human trafficking, and a forced prostitution ring identified as many as 40 young women and girls brought from Mexico. The center also cited a case of “domestic servitude” in southwest Florida.

But the problem is not limited to those areas or those industries, according to Robin Thompson, director of the research project.

“All you have to do is look where cheap labor is required and where there is a potential for labor exploitation, which pretty much can put you anywhere in our state,” Thompson said.

The center organized a “working group” of advocates and law enforcement officials to study the issue. The project was funded by a federal grant under a 2000 law designed to increase protections for victims of human trafficking.

The center’s report emphasized that not all victims of human trafficking are illegal immigrants. Many enter the United States legally but because of their poverty or inability to speak English are exploited by traffickers.

And some victims are Americans, Thompson said, pointing to the homeless, addicted and runaways as potential victims for traffickers.

“The greater the awareness, the more likely these cases will be reported and prosecuted,” Coonan told reporters. “This is almost an invisible crime because the victims are kept out of the public eye. We need to crack this code of silence.”

An Overview of the Problem

Recent studies estimate that approximately 18,000 to 50,000 people are trafficked into the United States annually. Florida is one of the top three “destination states” within the U.S. for trafficking. It’s not Florida’s beautiful scenery that draws them but rather industrial sectors such as a large service industry, agriculture and the presence of large airports, coastlines and other transit ports that make our state attractive to traffickers. There is much information that we do not know about human trafficking due to the secretive nature and fear of the victims involved. However, we do know that the people who are often preyed upon by traffickers do not speak English, are very poor or vulnerable due to age, disability, education, etc. We also know of the tactics traffickers use such as kidnapping and making false promises of better lives and work in the U.S. People who are trafficked come from unstable and economically devastated places. They may have been victimized or abandoned, such as “throw away kids.” Many are seeking work so that they can provide for themselves and their families. Traffickers count on economic deprivation, high rates of illiteracy and people who are desperate.

Next to drug trafficking, human trafficking is the most lucrative business for organized crime. Recent estimates show that the human trafficking business yields approximately $9 billion in profits each year. Unlike drugs and arms traffickers, human traffickers can continue to exploit their victims after the initial point of sale. Traffickers hold their victims by physically isolating or guarding them as well as coercing them psychologically. Most victims don’t’ even know where they are in the U.S. nor do they know that they have any rights under U.S. law. (Please NOTE:  The last two paragraphs excerpted from: Clearwater/Tampa Bay Area Task Force on Human Trafficking – A Law Enforcement and Social Services Coalition to Fight Human Trafficking in the Tampa Bay Area)

Click here for their valuable website

Visit Florida State University Site on Human Trafficking

Visit Florida State Univ Center for the Advancement of Human Rights

Link to the original Article

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