Community panel discusses impact of human trafficking on undocumented Floridians

Telisia Espinosa speaking at the panel on Thursday night. By: Corey Beltran (10/12/2023)

Human trafficking is a difficult topic for many Floridians, as modern-day slavery and forced sex work continue to cause concerns for both families and law enforcement throughout the state. A nonprofit called gathered panelists at the Carter G. Woodson Museum in St. Petersburg to discuss solutions. Law enforcement officials and human trafficking victims shared stories about some of their experiences with how sex workers have been exploited. Pinellas County Commissioner René Flowers says those concerns extend to farmworkers living in Florida.

“A lot of those young girls are trafficked right there in the groves. And the parents won’t say anything because they’re all  undocumented”

Telisia Espinosa is a human trafficking survivor, and offered to share her lived experiences with the audience.

“Yeah, they may be prostituted yes, they may be victimized, but when it all comes down to it, you’re a human being. I’m a human being. You deserve respect. I deserve respect.”

Espinosa says to look out for signs of trafficking including children coming home with new cellphones or expensive gifts, matching tattoos among friends, and even video games with chat features where adults have access to engage with young children.

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