Bondi on campaign to stop Florida's sex trade

2,000 calls to National Human Trafficking hotline in 2011

Published On: Sep 24 2012 05:00:20 PM EDT   Updated On: Sep 24 2012 05:49:29 PM EDT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

By some estimates, Florida has the third highest number of sex slaves in the country.  Some of the victims are teens; others are even younger.

Beaten and found unconscious on the side of the road, 15-year-old Shaquanna, shares her story about life as a sex slave.

“You got to come up with at least 500 and over. You got to. And then one night he sent me outside in the area that we live to make $500, which is impossible," Shaquanna said.

Shaquanna’s interview is featured in the movie "Very Young Girls," which exposes the rampant problem of sex trafficking in New York. The problem is even worse in Florida, according to National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

In 2011, there were 2,000 calls to the National Human Trafficking hotline. Most of those calls were from California, Texas and Florida.

Attorney General Pam Bondi is making it her mission to stop Florida’s sex trade.

“Florida will be, and is, a zero tolerance state for human trafficking," Bondi said.

Bondi spoke at a summit on human trafficking in Tallahassee on Monday.

In Florida, an estimated 50,000 people are forced to prostitute, pick produce or work at tourism related businesses.

“We know that South Florida is ground zero in Florida for human trafficking, and so we are going to do everything in our power to prevent this," Bondi said.

Last week in Tampa, 81 massage therapists lost their licenses in a sting operation, and 120 others are under investigation.

A change in state law is giving police more authority to go after massage parlors, acting as a cover for sex trafficking.

New laws also stiffen penalties for human trafficking and forcing people caught running prostitution rings to register as sex offenders.

The new law also sets up a system of safe houses, where sex slaves can escape their captors. Many of those safe houses are beginning to open throughout the state.