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Second Human Trafficking Statewide Task Force Welcomed in Southwest Florida

Law enforcement leaders from five Southwest Florida counties have announced a shared goal: making a task force that can combat human trafficking within the region. Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Glades, and Hendry counties make up the twentieth Judicial Circuit, presided over by State Attorney Amira Fox. Fox compared the creation of the brand new task force to the Narcotics Enforcement Task Force, referred to as NETFORCE, in late 2019. The goal of the duty force is to coordinate a circuit-wide approach and resources to dismantle organized crime, narcotics, racketeering, and criminal enterprises within the five counties.

“They really don’t remain in a single place in relation to human trafficking,” Fox said. “They’re moving these victims around.”

During a Thursday groundbreaking ceremony in Naples, Fox emphasized that perpetrators are selling victims out of hotel rooms and apartment complexes. The brand new task force goals to chase and arrest these individuals and produce them to justice. Fox noted that traffickers often control their victims through using narcotics, and every part within the criminal justice system suits together to make a difference.

Fox explained that victims often don’t report crimes as a result of the trauma they’ve experienced. They might also be highly hooked on drugs, which makes it difficult for them to come back forward. Moreover, victims face challenges once they should confront their perpetrators in a courtroom, which may make cases difficult to prosecute.

Bryan Weight, the chief operations officer at Operation Light Shine, expressed his desire to assist law enforcement combat human trafficking nationwide. Operation Light Shine, based in Nashville, Tennessee, has created the Inter-agency Child Exploitation And Individuals Trafficking Task Force, referred to as INTERCEPT, to combat human trafficking. They currently have task forces in Southwest Florida, Northwest Florida (Jacksonville), Frederick, Maryland, Richmond, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee. They aim to have task forces in every state.

Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk stated that the hassle to create a task force has been ongoing for a couple of 12 months. The digital era and its connection to human trafficking were aspects that led to the creation of the duty force in Southwest Florida. Rambosk emphasized the goal of finding and saving victims who are sometimes victimized as children through the creation and distribution of videos and images. The local effort has already resulted in 25 arrests within the five-county region.

Sheriff Carmine Marceno of Lee County echoed the sentiment that narcotic offenders also engage in other criminal activities and emphasized the necessity to protect children. He urged parents to watch their kid’s cellphone and computer usage to make sure their safety. John Yancey, resident agent in charge on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Fort Myers, revealed that authorities have identified 37 victims along with the 25 arrests made.

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