Florida Leaders Look to Trounce Human Trafficking

By: Mike Vasilinda
By: Mike Vasilinda

A master's student at the FSU film school was nominated for an academy award for his portrayal of the human slave trade in this movie "The Fields of Mudan."

Experts at the Collins Center who helped finance the movie say it was ripped from a true story.

Dr. Terry Coonan of the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights says, "How big a problem is this in Florida? Significant. A very significant problem and an increasing problem as well. We’re finding literally hundreds of cases around the state."

Rep. Anne Gannon, (D) Palm Beach County, says, "Florida is in the top five states for sex and labor trafficking."

Rep. Anne Gannon is sponsoring legislation giving prosecutors more tools and the ability to go after slave traders profits. It easily cleared its first committee.

Estimates are, at any given time, 1,000 people are being held against their will.

Hotels, tomato fields and citrus groves are likely spots for the trade to flourish. Collier County Sheriff's LT Bill Rule says many who are being held don’t run when they get the chance because they are afraid.

“People are told, 'I know where your family lives back in Guatemala. If you don’t do as I tell you to here, I will kill your family in Guatemala.'"

Right now, Collier County alone has four active investigations underway.

The legislation makes it a crime for an employer to deprive someone of their identification such as a green card. It also amends the "Rico" or racketeering statutes, to include human trafficking.


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