CLEARWATER - Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced at the 2006 National Conference on Human Trafficking October 3-5 in New Orleans, Louisiana, that Clearwater is one of ten cities to receive a portion of a federal grant totaling $8 million to combat human trafficking.
Clearwater, the only Florida city to receive monies in 2006, has been awarded $450,000 to create a Trafficking Task Force. Other Florida organizations that concentrate on servicing victims were also awarded portions of the grant.
At the conference, federal, state and local law enforcement officers, victim advocates, justice professionals, and faith-based community organizations reviewed methods for reducing human trafficking.
According to US Department of Justice (USDOJ), over 800,000 victims are trafficked across international borders worldwide each year. USDOJ estimates that between 18,000 and 20,000 of that number are victims trafficked into the U.S. bound for Florida.
The USDOJ definition of the crime is: "Trafficking in persons - also known as "human trafficking" - is a form of modern-day slavery. Traffickers often prey on individuals who are poor, frequently unemployed or underemployed, and who may lack access to social safety nets, predominantly women and children in certain countries. Victims are often lured with false promises of good jobs and better lives, and then forced to work under brutal and inhuman conditions."
The number of victims in Florida is expected to continually increase due to the number of immigrants that arrive to find work harvesting crops, according to the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking. Traffickers often move victims from Miami northward.
The new trafficking tasks forces afforded by the federal grant will model 32 entities already existing as part of a collaboration between the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Labor and State, and other national and community anti-human trafficking organizations.
Clearwater's task force will be composed of representatives from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office and the Regional Community Policing Institute.
Other cities awarded money to form task forces on human trafficking for 2006 are; Baton Rouge; Las Vegas; Salt Lake City; San Antonio, Dallas, and Ft Worth Texas; Buffalo, New York; and Saipan, of the Northern Marianas.
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