Human Trafficking is a growing crime in the United States. While it may be more prevalent in big cities, it is finding it's way to smaller towns and communities.
There are two forms, the one we hear the most about, sex trafficking speaks for itself. The other is labor trafficking where victims are enslaved by their captors to work jobs without pay and sometimes basic needs.
Homeland Security Agent Scott Springer says it is a significant problem across the country. "Our investigation numbers from 2010-2012, Springer says, they literally tripled in terms of indictments, convictions and prosecutions."
There is an estimated 20.3 million trafficking victims worldwide or individuals exploited by traffickers. Agent Springer says his agency is responsible for investigating human trafficking for the federal government. Springer says Atlanta is considered the number one sex trafficking hub for the United States, so that is not too far away from here."
Human Labor Trafficking is also a problem, and it is showing up on Panama City Beach. When foreign national students come for a few months on a J-1 Visa to work during spring break for example, Springer says they sometimes overstay their visa and that's when they become vulnerable. "They transition from working, say as wait staff in a restaurant, to then maybe working in the prostitution industry, Springer says."
Anyone who believes they are a victim of Human Trafficking can call the local police, or Homeland Security for help and protection.