By ALFONSO CHARDY MiamiHerald.com
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is spearheading a campaign in Miami and 13 other U.S. cities to enlist the public’s help in identifying possible victims and suspects involved in human trafficking.
Known as a form of modern-day slavery, human trafficking involves people — usually women — being forced or lured into unpaid labor as servants, agricultural workers or prostitutes.
Victims generally come from poor countries and are smuggled into the United States and other rich nations to serve as veritable indentured servants.
Several harrowing human trafficking cases have been discovered in South Florida in recent years. Local cases involved a Peruvian woman found working long hours for little pay in Key Biscayne and a 14-year-old forced to work as a prostitute by a Fort Lauderdale man who operated an escort service.
The campaign — with the slogan “Hidden in Plain Sight” — will feature billboards and ads that include a toll-free number (866-DHS-2-ICE or 866-347-2423) that people can call to report cases to law-enforcement authorities.
Other cities launching the campaign are Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Newark, New Orleans, New York, St. Paul, San Antonio, San Francisco and Tampa.
In Miami, the campaign involves ads on 30 Miami-Dade buses. In other cities, ads are on bus shelters or on highway billboards.
“The campaign’s goal is to raise public awareness about the existence of human trafficking in communities nationwide, and asks members of the public to take action if they encounter possible victims,” said Miami ICE spokeswoman Nicole Navas in a written statement.
About 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked around the world each year to work against their will in underpaid or unpaid labor or in the sex trade, according to federal officials.
Three ICE public service announcements for this campaign.