The Town of Cutler Bay will conduct a symposium on the topic of human trafficking on Monday, Mar, 14, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., at its Municipal Center, 10720 Caribbean Blvd., Suite 115.
Town Mayor Peggy Bell will be joined by a panel of experts from various agencies to discuss awareness and prevention of human trafficking within Miami-Dade County. According to the Department of Justice, South Florida is the third-busiest area for sex trafficking in the United States. This is in part due to its location as a transportation hub.
The United Nations defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by improper means, such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion, for an improper purpose including forced labor or sexual exploitation. Teenage girls and boys are most often the victims of this, but adult women are as well.
“Years past when someone used the term ‘human trafficking’ it conjured up a person being kidnapped and sold into slavery in a foreign country,” Mayor Bell said. “Though that still happens, the human trafficking most prevalent today involves people imprisoned and used for forced labor and young teenagers drugged and used in prostitution.”
Mayor Bell will be hosting the seminar at Town Hall to educate residents on the very real dangers these criminals pose to the community and throughout Miami-Dade County.
“Though Cutler Bay remains a very safe place to live, this type of crime can strike anyone,” Bell said. “The most powerful weapon against crime is being educated and informed. At this seminar we will provide a panel of experts who will arm us with vital information. I urge all to come out and listen to these experts.”
Jean Tong-Noon of the organization Thread of Life International said that human trafficking is affecting area children who are approached in their schools, in the malls, in the theaters, and that most parents are unaware. Fort Lauderdale is No. 1 in cyber/social media trafficking.
“That is why Mayor Peggy Bell and the Town of Cutler Bay are hosting a Human Trafficking symposium,” Tong-Noon said. “We want to educate the communities from South Miami to the Keys to bring awareness. This is not a fantasy, it is a crime that is so easily overlooked except by the experts from Homeland Security, Miami Dade Police, State Attorney’s Office, Department of Justice and many other organizations who work 24/7 to rescue, care for and work with the victims. They are also arresting and prosecuting both traffickers and the Johns.”
Tong-Noon said that she hopes that many will heed the call and attend this symposium to learn and become involved. She is available to speak before any groups by contacting Thread of Life International by email at Threadoflifeintl@gmail.com.