JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The state of Florida ranked third in the United States for the number of active criminal human trafficking cases in the federal court system last year, according to data released Friday by the Human Trafficking Institute.
The data shows Florida had 57 cases in 2017, well above the national average of 12.64.
The findings in the 2017 Federal Human Trafficking Report show 84.7 percent of human trafficking cases last year in Florida were sex trafficking. That's when women and children are forced into sex slavery by working the streets as prostitutes or appearing in child pornography for profit by the people who have enslaved them.
The cases are divided into three districts in Florida: northern, middle and southern.
Northeast Florida, including the Jacksonville area, was part of the middle district, which had the highest number of active criminal cases with 26 -- compared to the southern district, which had the second-highest number of cases with 20, and the northern district with 11 cases.
According to researchers, the 59 active criminal and civil human trafficking cases in Florida last year generated 433 federal charges against 87 people.
One was of the silver linings in the data was that Florida ranked second in the U.S. for the highest number of criminal convictions last year. There were 31 convictions in Florida compared to the national average of 6.23 convictions.
Anyone who is a victim of human trafficking can get help by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- at 1-888-373-7888.