January 2019

January is Human Trafficking Awareness month. The Pasco Sheriff’s Office is partnering with the David Maus Foundation to raise awareness about this silent scourge in our community.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that involves the exploitation of vulnerable persons for commercial sex, forced labor or involuntary servitude, plus the inability to extricate oneself from that situation. The trafficker uses force, fraud, or coercion to control the victim.

Light Up the Night is what we call our community event to raise awareness on human trafficking. We have a number of fundraisers scheduled to help us fund our efforts. The first event is the 5K Run/1M walk, which begins at 8 a.m., at the Pasco-Hernando State College Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch, 2727 Mansfield Blvd., Wesley Chapel. The 5k Run is chip-timed, and participants in both the 5K Run and the 1M Walk receive a t-shirt and medal for participating.

The Light Up the Night concert and vigil begins at 6 p.m. at the Trinity College of Florida, 2430 Welbilt Blvd., Trinity. The event will include music by Jonny Diaz, educational information about human trafficking, and a kids’ zone.

Human trafficking is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world, just behind the illegal drug trade, netting billions of dollars worldwide annually. There are over 20 million persons held in slavery in the world today, more than any other time in history. It is estimated between 500,000 and 2 million are trafficked annually worldwide with an estimated 15,000 to 18,000 being trafficked into the United States every year.

On a local scale, according to national human trafficking hotline tips and complaints, Florida ranks as third in the number of calls to the human trafficking hotline, with the Tampa Bay area being in the top three in the state.

Possible indications of human trafficking include:
• Constantly accompanied by a controlling person or boss; not speaking on their own behalf.
• Lack of control over personal schedule, money, identification or travel documents.
• Transported to and from work; lives and works in the same place.
• Debt owed to employer/crew leader makes them unable to leave their job.