Florida's Third Annual Statewide Human Trafficking Summit Kicks Off

Contact: Heather DiGiacomo
                     Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
                     (850) 322-9541

Florida’s Third Annual Statewide Human Trafficking Summit Kicks Off

TAMPA, Fla. –State agency leaders from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Children and Families, Department of Health, and Department of Economic Opportunity were joined by Congressman David Jolly today to kick off the third annual statewide human trafficking summit. More than 850 individuals were in attendance at the University of South Florida’s Marshall Center representing professions including law enforcement, the legal community, service providers, the medical community, educators and other first responders. The summit, which focuses on labor and sex trafficking of both children and adults, also provided an opportunity to honor outstanding citizens for their efforts to end human trafficking in Florida.

Congressman David Jolly said, “This is a real problem that involves both forced labor and sex trafficking. Sadly, Florida is one of the top ‘destination states’ for women and children trafficked into the United States and the reality is this is nothing more than modern day slavery. This is a crime that we must end.”

Human trafficking is both a local and international crime with an estimated 20.9 million victims worldwide. That number represents more lives than the number of slaves at the height of the transatlantic slave trade.

“Men, women and children – including hundreds right here in Florida – are exploited on our streets, farms, hotels, restaurants and homes,” shared Department of Juvenile Justice Interim Secretary Christy Daly during her opening remarks. “A collaborative, cross agency approach to addressing this heinous crime is critical to protecting victims and making Florida the safest state in the nation.”

Agency leaders applauded Governor Rick Scott for signing into law earlier this year legislation that strengthens Florida’s response to human trafficking by removing the statute of limitations on human trafficking crimes, improving the care we provide survivors, increasing state and local collaboration on task forces, and expanding victim identification efforts.

DCF Interim Secretary Mike Carroll said, "We have two equally important tasks when it comes to fighting human trafficking: we must end it – and we must mend those broken by it. Building awareness is the most important step, and we are succeeding on that measure. I believe there are very few people now who don’t know what human trafficking is, and that was not true even four years ago."

State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong said, “Human trafficking is a tragic loss of human rights. Through our 67 county health departments, the Florida Department of Health is present in every Florida community to support state and local efforts that will eliminate this blight on humanity.”

Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said, "Florida must have zero tolerance for the crime of labor trafficking. DEO has partnered with the Attorney General’s office, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and other state agencies to help identify and combat the scourge of human trafficking, especially in the agricultural and migrant workforce.”

Awards were presented to the following individuals who were recognized as this year’s outstanding community advocate, survivor advocate, prosecutor and law enforcement officials:

Crystal Freed - Community Advocate of the Year Crystal Freed is an attorney and community activist who has been fighting human trafficking and modern slavery for nearly a decade. Crystal co-chaired Northeast Florida’s first Human Trafficking Task Force in 2007 and quadrupled its membership. Crystal established Jacksonville’s first human trafficking awareness walk, drawing 500 participants. She also organized the Jacksonville Bar Association’s first human trafficking continuing legal education curriculum. This year, she directed ArtWorks for Freedom, a five-week citywide trafficking awareness campaign in Jacksonville. Crystal has dedicated her legal career to providing pro bono service to women who have been exploited in the commercial sex industry in Jacksonville. She effectively collaborates with elected officials, artists, and non-profits to end human trafficking in Florida. Amanda Caldwell - Survivor Advocate of the Year

Amanda Caldwell is an attorney with Florida Rural Legal Services in Fort Myers who has dedicated the past six years to assisting Florida’s migrant and seasonal farmworkers throughout Florida who are victims of human trafficking. Amanda has spearheaded her organization’s drive to educate the farmworker community on human trafficking and their legal rights. Amanda travels from the Florida Panhandle to the Keys to ensure human trafficking victims receive the legal and non-legal services they need. Amanda has a wealth of knowledge on legal remedies available under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as well as through immigration and employment law. She has put this knowledge to practice through obtaining T visas for many trafficking survivors and their families. She has also commenced civil litigation for victims, claiming back wages and working conditions violations. Amanda’s work with victims ranges from individuals to large groups of farmworkers discovered through her outreach efforts. Several of these cases have resulted in abusers being charged under federal and state human trafficking laws.

Ilianys Rivera Miranda - Prosecutor of the Year Ilianys Rivera Miranda is an Assistant United States Attorney from the Middle District of Florida who recently successfully prosecuted a case against a criminal street gang who was exploiting a 14-year-old girl in Orlando. These individuals each face up to life in prison. The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Before coming to the Middle District, Ms. Rivera prosecuted federal cases in Puerto Rico. During her tenure she served in the Violent Crimes Unit and was designated Crime Scene Coordinator and Anti-Terrorism Coordinator. In 2011 her efforts were recognized with the Executive Office of the US Attorney’s Director’s Award for Superior Performance for her successful prosecution of a multi-defendant narcotics conspiracy involving seven murders. The case culminated with a six week trial and all defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Detectives Michael Davis and Richard Trew - Law Enforcement Officials of the Year Detectives Michael Davis and Richard Trew are partners at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The pair is responsible for the federal indictment of 6 suspected human traffickers in the first half of 2014 alone. On a day off this January, the detectives quickly and effectively collaborated with federal law enforcement and service providers to rescue a seventeen year old girl from a hotel where she was being sexually exploited. Because of the detectives’ tireless efforts, a vulnerable youth was recovered and is now receiving services to aid in her recovery. In addition to their investigative work, Detectives Davis and Trew participate in their local human trafficking task force and provide trainings for the community.