PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco announced new initiatives to
reduce human sex trafficking Monday.
The initiatives will be conducted with a partnership from the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking.
The goal of the initiatives will be to decrease demand for sex trafficking.
Deputies will utilize intercept bots to track people who use the Internet to search out underage victims for sex.
“If you’re going to buy sex in Pasco, this is your buyer beware warning. Instead of preying on a victim and their vulnerabilities, you might be talking to us,” said Pasco County Cpl. Alan Wilkett.
Officials say the bots will work behind the scenes waiting for a potential buyer to click on ads on popular websites used for trafficking.
The bots will communicate like a real person, exchanging information such as phone numbers and could even set up meeting locations.
Deputies will step in to lock up the buyer and then go after the person in court.
This technology has been used by other law enforcement agencies in the nation but this is believed to be the first use of it in Florida.
Nocco said the Tampa Bay area is a hot spot for human trafficking partly because there’s a large number of visitors throughout the year.
He said the goal is to collect data over the next couple of months to get a better idea of how bad the issue is in Pasco County.
An estimated 100,000 children are trafficked for sex in the United States every year.