WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — Florida consistently has one of the highest human trafficking rates in the nation, ranking third in the U.S. for cases, behind California and Texas.
Members of the U.S. Congress from Florida are now taking the issue head-on to combat the problem at adult entertainment clubs.
Republican Congressman Mike Waltz, Boynton Beach native who represents North Central Florida, and Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, who represents parts of Palm Beach County, re-introduced a bill Thursday that aims to help the Department of Justice better understand the link between this heinous crime and strip clubs, and what must be done to end it.
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“Adult entertainment, night clubs, strip clubs, often serve as a magnet and a conduit of human trafficking,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL).
The Study to Observe and Prevent (STOP) Human Trafficking Act 2023 will direct the U.S. Attorney General to investigate the exploitation happening there, and report those findings to Congress, to then modernize laws.
This study would examine things like; how victims were trafficked, the demographics of the victims, and the methods used by traffickers.
“The DOJ will canvas sheriffs, the police departments, various nonprofits that are dedicated to stop human trafficking, and they will put measures in place, through all types of arrests and other measures to gather that nationwide,” U.S. Rep. Waltz told CBS12 News.
"The STOP Human Trafficking Act is a critical step towards combating human trafficking that plagues Florida’s adult entertainment clubs,” said Cherfilus-McCormick in a press release. "Despite rampant exploitation, the federal government lacks the necessary data to address this issue and stop the most heinous criminal offenders. By mandating a comprehensive study and fostering inter-agency coordination, this bipartisan bill will yield the robust information needed to confront human trafficking head-on and keep vulnerable individuals safe."
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Under this measure, the attorney general will have 15 months to complete this study and submit those findings to Congress.
“We have cartels, mafia, even organizations like the Russian mob, that are trafficking girls across state lines, they often follow entertainment venues,” said U.S. Rep Waltz. “This is about saving young girls' lives and getting after the billions that these human trafficking rings are making, while they’re ruining the lives of our kids.”
According to these officials, currently, there hasn’t been a study done by the U.S. government to investigate the link between human trafficking and adult entertainment clubs.