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FHP holds first human trafficking initiative to raise awareness

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 8:27 PM CST
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JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Interstate 10 is a hotspot for human trafficking and runs from Jacksonville to California, including through Jackson County. That’s why Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Troopers held a human trafficking initiative in Sneads on Wednesday.

“Human trafficking has been something we’ve been enforcing for several years, but we were finally able to put together an awareness campaign for three days and actually utilize inner parts of our agency,” Lieutenant Jason King said.

FHP focused on commercial trucks for this detail. Troopers said they were looking for signs of human trafficking during commercial vehicle inspections.

“We’re able to make one-on-one contact with the driver and inspect their vehicle looking for any faulty equipment, as well as, during the time of that interview and interaction, we’re able to tell where they’re coming from or where they’re headed and if by chance they have any indication that would give us suspicion there might be something occurring in the semi or semi trailer,” King said.

With several parts of the agency coming together for this detail, they were able to cover all their bases.

“We can stop them for bypassing the weigh station and investigate why they may have passed it and then we’re also looking for passenger vehicles and other smaller vehicles that are possibly engaged in human smuggling as well,” Trooper Jake Moore said.

However, there’s another reason they wanted to do this detail. FHP was not only checking for people being trafficked, but also spreading awareness by handing out pamphlets.

“These are professional drivers, as a whole, they’re good people, they’re hardworking people, and they’re out working hard, they’re driving millions of miles a year, they go to truck stops and rest areas that we don’t get a chance to go into all the time, and they see things and hear things that we don’t, so we’re asking them if you see something say something, report it, and we’re giving them the information for an avenue to do so,” King said.

None of the vehicles shown in this story were found to be human trafficking in Wednesday’s detail. Officials said if you see anything that may involve human trafficking, call 1-888-373-7888, or text ‘INFO’ or ‘HELP’ to 233733.

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