Florida DBPR Highlights Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking in Recognition of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
January 11, 2024
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) recognizes January 11, 2024, as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and highlights actions taken by the agency to combat human trafficking.
“Governor DeSantis has taken bold and innovative actions to combat the human trafficking crisis, ensuring that the state has the resources to take swift and decisive action against criminals committing this heinous crime and boost awareness of the signs and impacts,: said DBPR Secretary Melanie S. Griffin. “Under the Governor’s leadership, DBPR has taken significant action to combat human trafficking, including educating Florida employers and investigating instances of human trafficking to rescue victims and hold criminals accountable.”
DBPR plays key roles in bolstering human trafficking training and awareness at licensed public lodging establishments as well as in investigations of the nexus between DBPR licensees and human trafficking.
Enforcement to Combat Human Trafficking
- DBPR’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT) Bureau of Law Enforcement has participated in numerous investigations with joint state and federal task forces that have identified more than 300 individuals either trafficking or being trafficked in Florida. As a result of the Bureau’s partnership with federal agencies, there are multiple pending criminal cases and more than $1.5 million in civil penalties pending against licensees.
- Last year, ABT Bureau of Law Enforcement investigated an anonymous complaint that a minor, trafficked from another country, was being labor trafficked at a restaurant licensed by DBPR. The investigation resulted in the minor being removed from the restaurant and placed into care by a federal agency. The minor entered the United States alone at the age of 15 and was trapped in labor trafficking to repay the criminal group responsible for the illegal entrance. This instance is part of an ongoing criminal investigation by ABT and federal partners.
- All 12 of ABT’s offices statewide are required to provide a monthly report of their efforts to identify, deter and investigate human trafficking throughout Florida.
Education and Training
- All public lodging establishments licensed by the DBPR Division of Hotels and Restaurants must provide annual training on human trafficking awareness to employees of the establishment who perform housekeeping duties in the rental units or who work at the front desk or reception area where guests check in or check out. The Division conducts inspections with a focus on:
- Auditing establishment training records during Division on-site inspections to ensure Human Trafficking Awareness Training is conducted on an annual basis for required public lodging establishment employees;
- Reviewing each public lodging establishment’s procedure for reporting of suspected human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline or to a local law enforcement agency; and
- Checking for the size and placement of a human trafficking public awareness sign posted for employees which clearly displays the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline and text numbers.
- As a result of DBPR’s strict human trafficking awareness training requirements, an attentive hotel worker in Palm Beach County identified and reported suspected sex trafficking to local law enforcement, saving two minor victims during the arrest of two traffickers in August 2023.
- Last year, Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature enacted stricter requirements on human trafficking awareness training requirements in public lodging establishments by:
- Cracking down on repeat violators of human trafficking awareness requirements by shortening the cure period for an initial violation from 90 days to 45 days and imposing daily fines for any subsequent violation; and
- Requiring public lodging establishments that are not in compliance with the DBPR Division of Hotels and Restaurants required Human Trafficking Awareness Training to remit administrative fines of $2,000 per day to the Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking to further prevention of this crime.
- DBPR’s ABT law enforcement officers undergo advanced training on detecting and investigating crimes related to human trafficking.
- DBPR’s Division of Regulation, in coordination with the Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking, provides staff training to investigators and inspectors on how to spot and report suspected instances of human trafficking during stings, sweeps and inspections. DBPR’s most recent training educated more than 70 employees.
If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in an activity and cannot leave, whether it is prostitution, housework, farm work, factory work, retail work, restaurant work, or any other activity, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-373-7888 or text INFO or HELP to 233-733 to access help and services.
The The Department of Business and Professional Regulation licenses and regulates nearly 1.7 million businesses and professionals in the State of Florida across more than 30 fields of industry. The Department’s mission is to license efficiently and regulate fairly. For more information, visit MyFloridaLicense.com.