Two Jacksonville men have been indicted, charged in separate accounts, on commercial trafficking charges.
The first indictment charges Clive Nelson, 23, with the commercial sex trafficking of a girl between, on or about Nov. 29 through on or about Dec. 15. Nelson was indicted Wednesday. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.
The second indictment alleges that between, in or about December 2012 through on or about May 31, Erick Brooks, 29, committed commercial sex trafficking of a woman through force, threats of force, fraud and coercion.
The indictment against Brooks was returned on Nov. 14. He was arrested on Dec. 4 and is awaiting a trial, currently scheduled for Feb. 3. If convicted, he faces up to life in federal prison.
With these arrests and many more like them in Jacksonville, human sex trafficking has become a growing concern. People gathered Thursday night at San Jose Catholic Church to watch a movie, geared toward raising awareness about human trafficking.
"Human trafficking is modern-day slavery," said NE FL Human Trafficking Coalition's, Lori Armstrong. "It's happening locally and it's happening across the state, nation and world unfortunately. The trafficking is through sex and through labor trafficking, and they use force, fraud and coercion and it's often very brutal and very dangerous and horrific lifestyle."
"Human trafficking needs a little light shined upon it because it's in the shadows and it happens everywhere and in many, many different varieties, but nobody talks about it," said Catholic Charities' Ruby Peters.
San Jose Catholic Church is holding events to raise awareness about human trafficking and offering information to the community that is hoped to stop the growing human trafficking problem.
"It happens in nail salons, it happens in hair salons, it happens in restaurants, hotels and that's not even the sex workers, so we just want them to be a little more aware," said Peters. "It doesn't really matter what religion you are if any, it doesn't matter what political leaning you are, and doesn't really matter what socio-economic status you have. This is a subject that everyone could be a little more aware of and no human being deserves to be treated like merchandise."
On Dec. 31, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation declaring the month of January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
In that proclamation, the president said, "As we work to dismantle trafficking networks and help survivors rebuild their lives, we must also address the underlying forces that push so many into bondage. We must develop economies that create legitimate jobs, build a global sense of justice that says no child should ever be exploited, and empower our daughters and sons with the same chances to pursue their dreams."