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Meeting on Human Trafficking Aims to Raise Awareness

Area residents are invited to attend the Aug. 16 seminar in Wesley Chapel.

Pasco County residents who want to learn more about and its impacts on the community will get their chance next Tuesday.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is teaming up with the Clearwater Tampa Bay Area Task Force on Human Trafficking and the Department of Homeland Security to offer an awareness seminar in Wesley Chapel, said Pasco County Cpl. Alan Wilkett.

“Human trafficking has been called the invisible crime,” Wilkett said. “It has a tendency to happen out in the open, and unless we become aware as a community (and learn) what to look for, it will continue right out in the open.”

Tuesday’s meeting takes place at Victorious Life Church, 6224 Old Pasco Rd., in Wesley Chapel. It starts at 7 p.m. and is open to anyone who would like to learn more, Wilkett said.

Meeting presenters will cover such topics as defining human trafficking, the scope of the problem, what the issue looks like on the local level and more. There will also be a section dedicated to informing attendees about how they can help fight back, Wilkett said.

According to the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, the crime is defined as the commercial use and exploitation of people who are forced into the sex trade or other forms of servitude for the gain of another. It may involve “forced prostitution and pornography, involuntary labor, servitude and debt bondage.”

Trafficking is an international problem, with an estimated 27 million people enslaved worldwide. It is also estimated there are at least 2.5 million victims in the United States alone. While many of the victims are illegal immigrants, many are also American citizens, especially underage runaways, officials say. This crime has grown rapidly on the international level and is second only to the drug trade for criminal participation, officials say.

To learn more about human trafficking, attend the meeting, read our or visit catfht.org.

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