Miami-Dade aims to end ‘pandemic’ of human trafficking

DORAL, Fla. – There’s a renewed push to end an unthinkable crime that’s perpetuated far too often in South Florida — human trafficking.

Florida has the third-most human trafficking cases in the country, and the city of Miami has the highest concentration of human trafficking in the state, authorities say.

“This has been a pandemic of a different matter, and one that we will find a way to one day also end,” said Jose “Pepe” Diaz, chair of the Miami-Dade County Commission.

More than a dozen officials from the county came together Tuesday to launch their latest human trafficking educational push.

Their goal is to increase awareness by placing ads in public places, including at the airport and on mass transit.

The campaign also includes new training for county police officers on what exactly to look out for and how to spot a potential victim.

“Is the person you’re talking to allowed to speak for themselves? Are they unaware of where they are currently? Or perhaps they’re not dressed appropriately for the climate,” said Caridad Mas-Batchelor, special projects administrator for the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Already about 2,500 Miami-Dade cops have completed the class.

And it’s not just local agencies taking action.

Earlier this month, Miami International Airport joined a federal human trafficking campaign called the Blue Lightning Initiative, which provides similar training to airport workers.

Leaders say it’s a true team effort aimed at bringing all forms of human trafficking to an end.

“We work in task force components, we work with the state attorney’s task force, we work with our federal partners to share information,” Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said. “Our goal is to save the victims.”

To report suspected human trafficking, or to get help if you are a victim, please use the following resources:

State Attorney’s Office Human Trafficking Hotline: 305-FIX-STOP (305-349-7867) or https://humantrafficking.miamisao.com/

National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-37-37-888 or text HELP to 233733

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