US ATTORNEY'S OFFICE ANNOUNCES COLLABORATIVE EFFORT TO STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING - Mitch Perry
The growing problem of human slavery in the U.S. has become better known in the past few years, and now the U.S. Government is taking serious steps to address it.
It is estimated that at least 15,000 people annually are trafficked into the U.S. Human trafficking involves victims who are typically forced, defrauded or coerced into sexual or labor exploitation.
Today at the U.S. Attorneyâ€™s Office in downtown Tampa, Federal & local law enforcement officers, as well as members of nonprofit groups and religious officials announced a new program in the Tampa area called â€œRescue & Restoreâ€?, which is designed to recruit and train local police, medical and social service providers in how to recognize and help human trafficking victims.
Paul Perez is the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida (roll tape#1 o.q.â€?of Human Traffickingâ€?)
Also the Task Force announced a new ad campaign of radio,television and print commercials - in both Spanish and English, entitled, â€œLook Beneath the Surfaceâ€?.
Tampa is the 4th U.S.City to be involved with the program. On April 20th, The Department of Health & Human Services announced the Task Force in Pheonix, Philadelphia and Atlanta . Wade Horn from the Department of Health & Human Services told the Tampa Tribune that the government believes there are significant number of victims in the Tampa Bay Area, as well as a â€˜pass through â€˜ point to other destinations.
Alex Acosta is the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Department of Justice. He calls Human Trafficking, â€˜modern day slaveryâ€™, and described a real case of a 14 year Mexican girl in Florida. (roll tape#2 o.q. â€œthat she slept at nightâ€?) Acosta says there are currently 163 open and active investigations in the U.S. involving Human Trafficking, and says that the Civil Rights Department at Justice have prosecuted - and won - 149 such cases since January of 2001. Human Trafficking frequently involves Steven Wagner is from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Trafficking in Persons Program. He says the Federal Government wants to help the victims, but first, they must find him. In order to that, people in the community need to speak out. .(roll tape#3 o.q.â€?unknown societyâ€?) Don Hunter is the Sheriff of Collier Countyâ€¦. He says the problem is world-wide (roll tape#4 o.q. â€œ Terry Coonan is the Executive Director of the Florida State University for the Advancement of Human Rights. Earlier this year, Coonanâ€™s program at FSU released a landmark report on Modern Day Slavery in the U.Sâ€¦.Their report indicated that Florida is the 3rd most popular location for people forced to work as prostitutes, farmworkers and maids across the state, behind only New York and Texas.WMNF asked Coonan asked him did anything shock him in producing their report (roll tape# â€œthought to begin withâ€?) And Coonan said his organization will continue to work on the problems with human trafficking (roll tape# Laura Germino is from the Coalition of Immokalee Workersâ€¦The Coalition has successfully worked with Federal and local law enforcement involving Human Rights Abuses. She says itâ€™s good that thereâ€™s more focus, but says itâ€™s sad that human slavery exists in the 21st century in the U.S. in the first place (roll tape#7 o.q.â€?slavery existsâ€?) The U.S. Attorneyâ€™s office plans to conduct a training seminar for local and state law enforcement and nonprofit groups on how to identify and deal with potential victims of human trafficking later this month. For those who may know of such activity, you can call the toll-free # of 1-888-3737-888â€¦..Interpreters are available for non-English speaking people.