In 2017, 8,759 cases of human trafficking were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, a confidential and toll-free number that serves human trafficking victims in the United States. Recently, the Palm Beach Post reported that human trafficking reports have surged in Florida, with 1,900 reports across the state in 2016. According to Florida Department of Children and Families, that’s 54% higher than 2015.
As cases grow in number, Florida flourishes as a hotspot for human trafficking. According to 2017 human trafficking statistics posted by members of Human Trafficking Search, Florida has the third-highest number of reported trafficking cases of all fifty states. The state’s large population of transients and immigrants, appeal to millions of annual tourists, and position as an entry state are all factors that attract traffickers.
As a top state for human trafficking, Florida employs the most resources to combat the offense. Indeed, the rise in the number of reported incidents doesn’t necessarily mean that there are more human trafficking cases; but rather, that efforts made to increase awareness about human trafficking have paid off as more people are reporting suspicious activity.
Understanding Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which victims are stripped of their rights and freedoms and forced to work for others. Victims include children, teens, and adults from all walks of life, who might be foreign or U.S. citizens. They are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor.
Many people equate human trafficking with sex trafficking; however, commercial sex is just one of the types of forced labor to which traffickers subject their victims. Some experts believe that worldwide, there are more instances of labor trafficking than sex trafficking. Still, there is greater awareness of sex trafficking in the United States. Also, while many people believe that only undocumented workers get trafficked, it can happen to any person of any nationality.
Anybody can be approached by a trafficker. The process by which people become victims of human trafficking usually involves a period of “grooming” and typically does not involve outright kidnapping or violence. Most human traffickers psychologically manipulate victims into believing they can provide them a better life or a means of earning an income and improving their living situation. Traffickers gain their victims’ trust over a period of many months or years, and sometimes, victims do not consider that they are being controlled and extorted by their traffickers. This type of manipulation occurs more easily when family members, spouses, and romantic partners do the trafficking.
The International Labor Organization estimates that there are more than 40 million human trafficking victims worldwide, with hundreds of thousands in the United States.
Seek Legal Protection After an Accusation of Human Trafficking
Florida is a self-proclaimed zero-tolerance state for human trafficking. Anti-human trafficking task forces around the state conduct regular meetings to fight human trafficking, and the state attorney general launched a campaign called From Instant Message to Instant Nightmare to raise awareness of the prevalent crime among children and parents.
Attorney General Pam Bondi staunchly prosecutes suspected human traffickers. A person who participates in human trafficking in any way will face harsh penalties in Florida. Many offenders don’t even know they had anything to do with a human trafficking crime. An example of this may be a business owner who does business with traffickers without even knowing it. If you find yourself in this situation, acquiring legal representation is the key to preserving your business and reputation.
Trust the Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel
Criminal penalties for human trafficking depend upon the details of the case. Offenders may face decades in a state prison or even a life sentence for human trafficking offenses involving children. Federal penalties are possible and common in human trafficking cases as traffickers often take their victims across state or international borders. If you have been accused of human trafficking or are a suspect in a human trafficking investigation, you need to protect yourself with quality legal counsel.
Attorney Brian P. Gabriel has defended people facing serious felony offenses for more than 30 years in Palm Beach and surrounding counties. He holds an esteemed reputation among judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and others in the legal sphere. His dedication to felony cases is unmatched and he will do everything in his power to uncover evidence that can help your case and/or cast doubt on the State’s case against you. As one of the National Trial Lawyers’ Top 100 Lawyers, you can count on him to produce a powerful case. Do not hesitate to seek quality legal counsel the moment you suspect you are under investigation. Contact Brian Gabriel by calling(561) 622-5575 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.