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Posted: 11:38 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013

Florida ranks third in nation for Human Trafficking Cases

By Tiffany Griffith

Jacksonville, FL —

Human Trafficking currently enslaves 27,000,000 people around the world. But it's not just happening overseas, it's also happening right here in Jacksonville.

Sheriff John Rutherford is using Human Trafficking Awareness Month to make you aware of just how cruel these traffickers can be. During a Thursday news conference, he described cases where victims as young as 13 were exploited for sex and money. They were also beaten, had their bones broken, forced to take nude photos so their pimps could sell them for sex, and were trapped in hotel rooms without their clothes so they couldn't escape.

The average age of these modern day slaves is 12 years old and only 2% of victims are ever rescued. Florida still remains one of the top destinations in America for traffickers, and 80% of Florida victims are women and children. Global statistics also show only a small percentage of trafficking suspects and victims are ever found.

The Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Coalition is a local task force which formed in 2005. The group has helped arrest dozens of suspects and rehabilitate just as many victims. Trends show the traffickers also like to follow sporting events to find clients for the victims they've enslaved.

The coalition will get more information out Friday night at St. Vincents Hospital in Riverside. Starting at 6pm, you can attend a free exhibit, panel discussion and movie screening on human trafficking.

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