A new report on human trafficking reveals Florida ranks third in the nation for active sex and labor trafficking cases being prosecuted in federal court.
The Middle District of Florida, which includes Northeast Florida, has the most human trafficking cases in the state: 28 cases; mostly sex trafficking and a handful of labor trafficking.
That’s according to the first-of-its-kind 2017 Federal Human Trafficking Report, a project of the Human Trafficking Institute.
Alyssa Beck escaped from sex trafficking when she was 15.
Now she advocates for other survivors.
“I didn’t feel like I was worth anything. But I don’t blame myself now,” said Beck, an advocacy specialist at the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center in downtown Jacksonville.
Florida now ranks third in the country with 59 active human trafficking cases in federal court last year, according to the report.
“More victims are being identified, more cases are being worked on. And that could be a good thing. I know people will see these numbers and sometimes get scared, but I would be even more scared if I was seeing no numbers because we know it’s happening in our community,” Beck said.
Beck said Jacksonville is an attractive place for human traffickers.
“Jacksonville has a lot of hotels and also I-95 runs right through Jacksonville. And Jacksonville is the very beginning of Florida. So, it’s really just easy access to a lot of different things that traffickers may need, or buyers may need,” Beck said.
The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center is at the helm of Florida’s new Open Doors Outreach Network; when a survivor is identified, they’re immediately paired with a survivor mentor, a regional advocate and a clinician.
To connect with the Open Doors Outreach Network, you can contact:
Cox Media Group