The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) Task Force announced on Thursday that it recovered 29 victims of human trafficking and made 363 arrests in the state during a month-long operation.
During the month of June, the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) Task Force Operation Breaking Chains focused on eradicating human trafficking throughout the 16 Florida counties and arresting those involved in the trafficking of individuals, officials said.
A total of 16 sheriff’s offices across 16 Florida counties participated in the effort, collectively recovering 29 human trafficking victims, identifying 31 human traffickers, and making 363 arrests.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office’s Strategic Investigations Division (SID), which took part in the operation, said in a news release that human trafficking is an ongoing problem in the state.
“This heinous crime, which is the act of forcing or coercing men, women, and/or children into labor that results in involuntary servitude, exploitation, debt bondage or slavery, is a felony and needs to be stopped,” it said.
“Amplifying the safety on our roads and waterways is crucial for all Floridians, including our children, and those who visit the Sunshine State,” FSA President and Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz said in a statement. “The dedicated enforcement of state laws that deal with businesses suspected of human trafficking and online operations will help to keep us all safe.”
Pasco County Sheriff and chair of the FSA Task Force Chris Nocco thanked Schultz for his leadership of FSA and the operation, as well as the participating counties.
“The goal, as always, is to protect victims,” added Pasco County Sheriff and chair of the FSA Task Force Chris Nocco. “I credit the unique approach this operation took to its success. We not only focused on arrests but surrounded victims with resources that will be impactful in the future and allow us to break the cycle of human trafficking while also holding those responsible.”
About 24.9 million people around the world and in the United States, both adults and children, are trapped in some form of human trafficking, the White House has said, while about one in 800 people in the United States are living in “modern slavery,” according to 2018 data by the Walk Free Foundation. The phrase is a broad term used to describe victims of forced labor, sexual exploitation or servitude, and forced marriages, among numerous other abuses.