TAMPA, Fla. — Representatives from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), helped the Florida Attorney General's Office unveil a new human trafficking awareness campaign Friday in Hillsborough County.
The news conference was hosted in front of one of the campaign's billboards. The billboards will be displayed throughout the State of Florida with the tag line, "From Instant Message to Instant Nightmare." They urge parents to speak to their children about human trafficking and how the Internet and social media can be used to recruit victims.
In addition to the billboards, the campaign includes mall displays and bus shelters with the same message.
"Education is key to combating human trafficking," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. "The more people know about human trafficking, the more likely they are to come forward and report suspicious activity. It's essential that law enforcement partners from all levels of government join forces to fight this crime, and today's announcement is the latest step in enlisting the public's help to put traffickers behind bars."
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. It occurs when individuals – minors and adults, U.S. citizens and aliens – are subjected to sexual exploitation or forced labor through force, fraud or coercion. The U.S. Department of State estimates that 12.3 million people around the world are subjected to trafficking or exploitative circumstances.