JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Human trafficking is often referred to as modern-day slavery and it happens right in here in our city.
Florida ranks third in the country for human trafficking cases.
Governor Rick Scott, along with President Obama, have declared January Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, there have been at least 27 human trafficking related arrests in our area.
The River City is especially vulnerable to attracting traffickers because of the major interstates that run through the city as well as the sporting events that take place here.
"Traffickers don't spend more than three or four days in one specific area. They travel all over the country to different sporting venues, following the crowds and following the money that's why we utilize federal law enforcement to help us locally to grab these guys and bring them back to Duval County," said Lt. Mike Johnson, Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Coalition Co-Chair.
According to Sheriff John Rutherford, traffickers take advantage of their victims by promising them the "good life." Oftentimes, they rob them of their identification cards and passports and force them into prostitution and other forms of exploitation.
Victims can be as young as school-age children.
The crime is so widespread, JSO is urging the community to help identify the traffickers and the victims.
If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, call (904) 630-0500.