Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams: 35 victims of human trafficking rescued or identified in 2020

Jacksonville FL — In a press conference promoting human trafficking awareness Tuesday, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams announced that Jacksonville Police, along with other community partners, were involved in rescuing or identifying 35 victims of human trafficking locally in 2020. Williams says of those 35, 8 were juveniles. Those numbers are up from 2019. We reported last year when JSO announced 19 people were rescued in 2019. Williams says in 2020, 27 people were arrested locally for human trafficking related incidents and two of them are pending federal indictment. In 2019, 34 were arrested locally.

Williams says with fewer people out in public in 2020 because of the pandemic, law enforcement is having to get creative to reach the community so they can report any possible human trafficking situations.

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It is a crime that involves compelling or coercing a person to provide labor or services, or to engage in a commercial sex act.” Williams says.

Williams says some of the signs to keep a look out for if you think someone might be a victim of human trafficking include noticing if someone is acting fearful, if that victim lets others speak for them, or if they’re not able to call their family or friends. Williams says to be on the look out anywhere because human trafficking isn’t just prone to one area or another.

Steven Ponson

Steven Ponson is the morning reporter for Jacksonville’s Morning News. He has been with Cox Media Group since the summer of 2015, and been living in Florida for over 20 years.

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