Tampa Bay area agencies teaching community to spot, report human trafficking

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) – Law enforcement agencies across Tampa Bay are teaming up with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and Club Operators Against Sex Trafficking (COAST) for the fight against human trafficking.

Clearwater Police and the Pasco County Sheriff’s department joined these agencies for an information session open to club operators and performers throughout Tampa Bay Tuesday afternoon.

CJ Bauer is co-operator of the Brass Flamingo in Pasco County. He’s been attending these meetings with ICE and Homeland Security for the last several years.

He’s never had to report a victim, but makes sure his employees are trained to know what to look for.

“If they come in with somebody, or if somebody comes in with them and picks up money from them while they are working, it’s the little things like that they look for,” he said.

Co-founder of COAST, Angelina Spencer, calls human trafficking “a crime hidden in plain sight.”

While many victims can be found in adult entertainment centers, they can really be found anywhere. It’s typically difficult to spot them, but she offers a few tips.

“If you see two people and one is holding the other’s documents, or if they don’t allow the person they are with to talk and they are talking for them. Also, unfortunately, there are a lot of good fake ID’s out there. Fake ID’s are a good indicator, too,” she said.

ICE says human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes they investigate.

Their goal is to provide not only club owners, but also the community, with the tools and information they need to spot human trafficking and what to do if they suspect something is not right. ICE says victims typically will not try to run and ask for help.

If you suspect human trafficking in your community, call ICE’s tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

News Channel 8 will be at Tuesday’s informational session and will have a live report at 5 p.m.

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