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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bondi, lawmakers urge support for human trafficking laws



 There's a $32 billion industry that's flourishing in Florida, and Attorney General Pam Bondi wants it shut down -- human trafficking.

Two bills this year aim to crack down on the practice -- SB 1880, filed by Sen. Anitere Flores, and HB 7049 by Rep. William Snyder. The bills would make human trafficking a felony, enhance penalties for offenders, and give the Office of Statewide Prosecution jurisdiction on the crime. It would also allow law enforcement officers to investigate massage parlors that may be sex trafficking fronts.

Bondi, Flores, Snyder and a slew of law enforcement officers and victims advocates held a news conference Wednesday to promote the issue.

Many victims are runaways, they said. Many come from outside the country, but plenty are American citizens, too.

"This is something happening in our backyard," Flores said.

Comparing the effort to last year's push for pill mill crackdowns, Bondi said agencies statewide are working together to solve this problem.

"People think that it's not as bad as it is," Bondi said. "Every law enforcement officer can tell you how prevalent it is... Sometimes things are so bad, they're never spoken about publicly."

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 12:09pm]


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