HUMAN TRAFFICKING 

 

What is Human Trafficking? Human trafficking is the use of coercion for the purpose of labor, domestic services or commercial sex. Human trafficking occurs as either labor trafficking, sex trafficking or organ trafficking. Commercial sex can include acts of prostitution, sexual performances, such as stripping, or the production of pornography. Except in the case of minor sex trafficking, human trafficking requires the use of coercion. Coercion, as defined by our Florida State Statute, includes threats and violence, fraud, deceit, and the use of drugs to manipulate victims.

 

Human Trafficking consists of many elements including:

 

  • Forced prostitution

  • Forced production of video and photographic pornography

  • Involuntary labor

  • Involuntary servitude and debt bondage

 

Global Investigative Group's principal investigator, Walter Zalisko, is a recognized expert in human trafficking investigations. His international experience involved working with American and Eastern European law enforcement agencies and NGO's to investigate human trafficking; and developing initiatives to address the problem of trafficking in women and children. Since the 1990's, he has been recognized as the catalyst in human trafficking initiatives and awareness in the United States. He has been commended by the United States Department of State and the New Jersey Senate and Assembly for his efforts in organizing anti-trafficking and international law enforcement initiatives. Recognized as one of the foremost authorities on Russian Organized Crime and Trafficking in Women and Children, he has extensively investigated human trafficking and presented testimony to the United States Congress and New Jersey Commission of Investigation. His undercover investigations have been chronicled on national television and print media, and are included in the William J. Clinton Presidential Library. 

 

Florida has become a top destination in the United States for human trafficking victims. Whether the victims are trafficked from Mexico, Europe, Russia, Africa or one of the states, they are here.

 

Human Trafficking involves the commercial exchange and exploitation of innocent people, often minors, and is a rapidly growing worldwide. The International Labor Organization estimates that the total global profits from human trafficking exceed $40 billion per year. It is now the second most common criminal activity behind the illegal drug trade worldwide. A recent Trafficking in Persons Report by the U.S. State Department confirmed that the United States is a destination country for human trafficking, and Florida is a one of the top three human trafficking destinations in the country. With its large immigrant population, constant influx of visitors, runaway minors, hotel and services industries, and agriculture’s need for cheap labor, Florida is a magnet for human trafficking.

 

According to UNICEF, there are more than 2.9 million victims enslaved in the United States alone. Most of the victims are women and children used to provide cheap labor and sexual services.  Men are also imported by the thousands from foreign countries as well. Traffickers are also home grown predators, entrapping teenage runaways and forcing them into prostitution. There are even examples where young girls are still living at home and secretly performing prostitution under threats of harm to their parents.  

How to Identify and Assist a Human Trafficking Victim

 

We all have the potential to discover a human trafficking victim.  Although victims are often kept behind locked doors, they are often hidden right in front of us at nail salons, hotels, restaurants, construction sites, and agricultural fields to mention a few.  Traffickers use coercion such as threats of deportation and harm to their parents or other family members. The threats are so powerful that even if you reach out to a victim, they sometimes are too fearful to accept your help.

“Red Flag” indicators of Human Trafficking include?

  • They live with their employer or some other caretaker

  • Their living conditions are poor

  • There are multiple people living in a cramped space

  • They are not permitted to speak to you alone

  • Their answers appear to be scripted or rehearsed

  • Their employer holds their identification documents

  • There are signs of physical abuse

  • Frequently moved from one location to another

  • They appear fearful and not trustful

  • They are not paid or receive very little payment

  • They are under 18 and involved in prostitution

  • Tin foil, bars or other coverings on the windows

  • Large numbers of people for one living space

  • Lack of private space or personal possessions

  • Different vehicles frequently visiting the house

 

What questions should I ask if I suspect a trafficking situation? In the event you are suspicious you need to very carefully attempt to speak with the potential victim privately without jeopardizing their safety.  Always assume the trafficker is watching and listening.  Here are a few questions to ask in following up on the Red Flags that caught your attention:

 

  • Can you leave your job if you want to?

  • Can you come and go as you please?

  • Have you been hurt or threatened if to tried to leave?

  • Has your family been threatened?

  • Do you live with your employer?

  • Where do you eat and sleep?

  • Do you owe your employer money?

  • Do you have your I.D./Passport?

  • Is your employer holding your I.D./Passport?

 

If you have reason to believe someone may be in a trafficking situation, don’t hesitate to contact law enforcement, or contact Global Investigative Group. Do not attempt to rescue a trafficking victim as many traffickers are members of organized criminal groups and are considered dangerous.  If you encounter a victim who has escaped from a trafficking location, there are a number of organizations where you can refer them to receive help with shelter, medical care, legal assistance and other critical services provided in a safe, secure and confidential location.

Who should I call if I suspect Human Trafficking?

Call 911 to report an urgent situation to law enforcement.  If you are hesitant in getting involved, please call us to anonymously share your concerns. Our specially trained and experienced human trafficking investigators will take all the necessary steps to ensure your complaint is thoroughly investigated.

National Human Trafficking Resource Center: 1-888-373-7888