Florida Lieutenant Governor, Jeanette Nunes, spoke about the dangers of human trafficking on Monday. “Often times these crimes are hidden in plain sight,” Nunes said.
Colonel Gene Spaulding with, FHP, said there has been an increase in human trafficking. “Florida has seen an uptick in human smuggling cases specifically we continue to see the drug trafficking and we did see 272 weapons off our highway system,” Spaulding said. “It’s tremendous job that our folks are doing.”
Sheriff’s Offices, Police Departments, the Florida Highway Patrol, FDLE and Lt. Governor Janet Nunes, held a round table discussion on human trafficking and the Criminal Interdiction Unit (CIU) Monday.
On April 26, CIU did a traffic stop and found 5.6 pounds of heroin concealed in the body of a truck along with two undocumented people.
April 14, on I75, a van was pulled over for a traffic violation. Inside were 20 undocumented people packed the van.
Some victims are very young. In 2019, over 20,000 children under age 18 in foster care were victims of human trafficking in Florida. It is one of many scenarios law enforcement is fighting against.
“Our foremost objective is to protect the victims of human trafficking to make sure that these young children, these women that are being trafficked into the state the working industry that they are protected and not abused,” Spalding said.
“This is why we have made it such a priority to emphasize this is not something that (just) happens in Florida when there is a big event,” Nunez said. “This is something that we have to focus on 365 days because you all are dealing with 365 days.”
The law enforcement groups also want to break up the organizations and cartels that are leading the trafficking. FHP has intercepted at least 30 cases since January 2021.