Teen helps raise awareness about human trafficking in Miami-Dade

MIAMI – At just 17 years old, Seanna Martínez stood in front of a crowd on Wednesday in Miami-Dade and said she is a human trafficking survivor.

Seanna told the crowd of community leaders that she aspires to have a career in law enforcement. She was the keynote speaker of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s annual forum.

“There is a lot of ignorance about the topic, and I feel like that’s why a lot of young girls don’t want to come out about what happened to them,” Seanna said.

Fernandez Rundle, who introduced Seanna during the forum, said Florida ranks number three in the country for having the most cases — and Miami-Dade County ranks first in Florida.

Fernandez Rundle’s human trafficking task force highlighted some of their cases and also explored the reasons why victims sometimes don’t stand up against their traffickers.

“Some of the victims talk about how gut-wrenching it could be for them,” Fernandez Rundle said. “Sometimes they felt shame, you know, they felt it was their fault.”

The Jackson Health System co-hosted the forum, so Carlos A. Migoya, who leads JMH, was among the experts who spoke about the growing problem.

In Miami-Dade, experts said the majority of the victims are women between the ages of 18 to 24 and reported that about 35% of them are minors.

Experts have estimated the growth of human trafficking as a black market industry in the United States from $32 billion in 2016 to $150 billion in 2021.

Authorities were asking anyone with information about human trafficking cases to call the State Attorney’s Office Human Trafficking Hotline at 305-349-7867 and the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

About the Authors:

Liane Morejon is an Emmy-winning reporter who joined the Local 10 News family in January 2010. Born and raised in Coral Gables, Liane has a unique perspective on covering news in her own backyard.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.