Can It Happen Here?
A major interstate highway
A nearby shoreline or port
An international airport
Service industries, such as restaurants, hotels, spas, nail salons
Massage parlors, strip clubs, prostitution
A large spectrum of wealth and poverty
Economically vulnerable people
Women and children
Your city, county, region, state has human trafficking victims in it, traveling through it, or coming from it. How do we know that? Because cases have been found in big cities and big states throughout the United States, but they have also been found in rural Kansas, Utah, Oregon, Vermont, Iowa and small cities in Ohio, Florida and Georgia, for example. Sometimes the victims are citizens of other countries and sometimes they are our own American children whom we have identified as runaway, missing or throwaway children or who may be your neighbors children who have been entrapped by traffickers. If you don’t believe this, go to www.google.com and put in a request for a Google Alert: Human Trafficking. Every day, you will receive an e-mail with 2 to 10 newspaper articles reporting on cases of human trafficking occurring now. Go to the internet and search for the keyword: human trafficking. You will be shocked.
Let me explain how such a horrendous crime can be occurring in your neighborhood and you don’t know it. When I served as the mayor of my small island community, we wrote an ordinance specifying where cell phone towers could be located. Before that, I hadn’t noticed that there were any cell towers where I lived. Suddenly, I saw that there were five within five miles of my home and they were 150 feet tall with flashing red lights on top. If I didn’t see towers that high, how can anyone expect you to see a 12-year-old girl living next door who is never allowed outside, who works in the house, taking care of the other children and is used as a sex slave at night?
This is what happened in Lee County, FL and only because a neighbor took action when that same girl came running to her house, pregnant, beaten and bleeding. She took her to the hospital and then she was returned to her captor, After 3 weeks, she was put in foster care across the street from her captors and then moved around in the system with no special care. When the director of a group home for young foster girls with babies heard from the principal of school where her charges went that there was a yong girl there who had a similar story to one of her other girls, she attended an organizing task force meeting and learned that child was entitled to benefits under a federal law. In a few weeks, four traffickers were arrested and prosecuted. They are now all in federal prison.
The detective who worked in the county Human Trafficking Unit lived two miles away from that house. This is one reason he is so committed to finding other victims. If it can happen in a middle class neighborhood in Florida – if it can happen to an innocent child anywhere. It has to be stopped.
If you know about slavery in your community, do you have any choice but to do something to eradicate it?