Local law enforcement steps up efforts against human trafficking

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s a sobering reality — Florida has a top ranking when it comes to human trafficking, and it’s not a good one.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, the Sunshine State has the third-highest number of human trafficking cases in the nation.

With major events coming to the state, like the Super Bowl and Wrestlemania, officials are doubling down on their efforts.

“We know that because we’ve looked at past events, and we also know that there have been successful efforts after preparation and going after those that want to traffic other people,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody.  

And not only will they be watching, but law enforcement officials are also training hotel workers, ride-share drivers, truck drivers and more to spot the signs.

“They’re not free to make their own decisions, they’re not free to order their own food, they’re not free to speak without permission,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said.

8 On Your Side also sat down with FBI Assistant Special Agent in charge Kristin Rehler, who said a biggest issue is labor trafficking.

“Experts actually believe there are more victims involved in labor trafficking than sex trafficking. It’s just much harder to find,” Rehler said.  

Experts say the only way to prevent it is to stop these traffickers in their tracks, and right now their best tool is the public.

“In order to truly make inroads in combating crimes, you have to have the buy-in and help of the public,” said Moody. “I truly believe service workers will help save lives.”

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