Human Trafficking Reports Increase Over 50% in Florida
It is estimated that human traffickers bring anywhere from 14,500 to 17,500 people to the United States each year. Trafficking lives is a growing issue in the United States and particularly in Florida, one of the top three “destination states.” According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, nearly 1,900 cases of trafficking were reported in 2016, up 54% from the previous year.
Of all the cities in Florida ripe for human trafficking, Orlando is the biggest hotspot. With a robust tourism industry, the city ranks #3 in the nation for the number of human trafficking calls per capita, according to the Polaris Project — a nonprofit organization that operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The twelve counties that comprise Central Florida hold about 28% of all child victims of human trafficking in the state. Several organizations focused on combating human trafficking in Florida attribute the increase in reports to increased awareness about what human trafficking is and what it looks like.
Could You Face Charges for a Human Trafficking Crime?
Human trafficking is described as modern-day slavery that involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to make victims conduct labor or commercial sexual acts. In most cases, human traffickers prey upon the vulnerability of victims who face hardships to get them to work against their will. Human trafficking most often involves sex trafficking, but victims are also brought to conduct domestic work, agricultural labor, or other types of forced labor.
The biggest way to fight back against human trafficking is to criminally prosecute those suspected of committing or enabling it. As awareness increases, law enforcement becomes more aggressive in pursuing criminal charges against parties suspected of having ties to trafficking activity. As such, a person may be at risk of facing human trafficking charges who was not directly involved in a trafficking operation.
It takes several players to complete a human trafficking network. Prosecutors, in their overzealous attempts to place offenders behind bars, may single out suspects who played a negligible role and were unaware of their involvement. These suspects may be people running established businesses that traffickers used to facilitate illegal activity, such as car rental companies or advertising agencies. The owners of these companies or their employees may face serious charges without having ever met the traffickers themselves.
A State or Federal Crime?
Most human trafficking crimes are federal crimes as they involve transporting people across state and international borders. Human trafficking is believed to be the second-most lucrative industry for organized crime, next to drug trafficking. If you face human or sex trafficking charges in Orlando, you need strong legal representation.
Attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm have represented those accused of criminal offenses throughout Central Florida for over 25 years. We have a team of dedicated criminal lawyers on staff, including two former prosecutors and a board-certified criminal trial lawyer. At the heart of our firm is the belief that everyone deserves a second chance — including you. Call our office for a free case review, reach out to our online chat 24/7, or complete this form so an attorney can be in touch.