Florida’s fight against human trafficking: What is being done?

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Criminals continue to exploit and profit off some of the most vulnerable members of the society.


The U.S. State Department said an estimated 27.5 million victims are being trafficked worldwide.

And Florida isn’t exempt.

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Residents here are reporting enough instances of human trafficking to earn a top-five spot when it comes to calls received by the national hotline.

Desha Turner is now serving a life sentence after he was found guilty of forcing a then-14-year-old girl into human trafficking three years ago.

Organizations working to prevent trafficking said his sentence is a win in the battle.

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It’s a battle Paving the Way CEO Jan Edwards said is happening too often to kids.

“Most parents are in the mindset of, that could never happen to my child,” Edwards said. “I get calls every week mortified of what they found on their kid’s phones and they don’t know what to do.”

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Orange County is ranked second in the state for child trafficking. The average age of children being targeted online is between 10 and 13 years old. Florida is ranked third in the nation for calls to the Human Trafficking Hotline.

In a letter sent Monday, attorney general Ashley Moody is requestion Meta CEO Mark Zuckerburg to appear before Florida’s statewide council on human trafficking to address the council as to what Meta is doing to prevent its platforms from being used to assist, facilitate or support human trafficking.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.