During my travels around Miami-Dade County, it never surprises me when I meet people who think that human trafficking is something involving cargo containers full of desperate faces being discovered in a far-away land. I understand this perception because, two years ago, human trafficking meant the same thing to me.
Once you learn that Florida is often ranked as the second or third state in terms of the number of victims of human trafficking, your perception begins to change. Once you learn that children are sold for sex starting at age 13, you learn that our own children are in immediate danger.
Putting together my Human Trafficking Task Force was just the first step in fighting this crime.
The 235 criminal cases my prosecutors have already filed against the offenders, who act as if our children are their walking ATMs, has an important impact. But we can do more, and we must do more.
Toward that end, I have organized an awareness and hotline campaign that will be launched on May 8. We, in partnership with city of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, County Commission Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa and County Commissioners Audrey Edmonson and Jose “Pepe” Diaz, the National Council of Jewish Women and local communications giants Clear Channel Outdoor, CBS Outdoor and Van Wagner are unveiling a new awareness and hotline billboard campaign. The campaign aims to:
• Create the awareness in the community of what sex trafficking is and how to spot it.
• Give concerned citizens a telephone contact where they can report their suspicions — our Switchboard Of Miami Hotline at 305-350-5567.
The people of this community can fight human trafficking if they know how to look, stop and call. A million eyes can see when something is wrong and help law enforcement and prosecutors save these targeted children who walk our streets. Our campaign is meant to expose this problem, allowing knowledge and awareness to shine a bright light on these very dark crimes occurring just out of sight in this community.
I know we can bring this crime into the bright light of awareness where it will wither under the heat of public scrutiny.
Katherine Fernandez Rundle,
Miami-Dade state attorney, Miami