223: More than two million people held as slaves
LEE COUNTY, Fla. - 2.4 Million people are being held in slavery at any given moment, according to new statistics from the United Nations. Human trafficking is a $32 Billion a year enterprise, making it the second most profitable illegal trade, after drug trafficking.
"It's not a declining number, it's an increasing number. Because it is highly profitable as a crime and it is very low risk," said Nola Theiss, founder of the Human Trafficking Awareness Partnerships, a Lee County organization that first blew the whistle on human trafficking.
Nearly 80% of modern day slaves are forced into a life of prostitution. But Theiss says "statistics are difficult because the crime is hidden beneath the surface."
Southwest Florida has seen a rash of human trafficking arrests this year. In February, Kathleen Roberson of Alabama was arrested for transporting five Mexican nationals to Immokalee as slaves. Days later Brissel Reyes-Fajardo was arrested after admitting to transporting two illegal aliens.
Florida was one of the first states to pass human trafficking legislation. For instance, all new law enforcement officers must be trained in human trafficking awareness.
But the vast majority of human traffickers never see the inside of a jail cell.
"If someone traffics someone, there's only a one percent chance that they'll be arrested."
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