Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials met with representatives of the adult entertainment industry in South Florida Monday to discuss human trafficking.
Homeland Security Investigations Assistant Special Agent in Charge Carmen Pino made the presentation at the event, which was sponsored by Club Owners Against Sex Trafficking, or COAST.
“It’s to make sure that people look at trafficking through a new set of eyes. Make sure that you’ve informed yourself of the indicators which we are teaching today,” Pino told NBC 6.
He added, “If you see something we want you to say something. It is happening here. It’s happening right in front of us.”
The event was held after recent human trafficking arrests in Florida in the past month, including the arrest of four people in a Miami sex trafficking case involving a 13-year-old girl.
Authorities say the girl was forced to dance at the Club Madonna strip club in Miami Beach against her will for the benefit of the four people holding her. Club owner Leroy Griffith said he had no idea the victim had been forced to dance there.
Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy L. Morales later revoked the business license of Club Madonna – but the establishment was allowed to reopen Monday after it reached an agreement with the city that calls for it to adopt measures to guard against human trafficking. Morales also stipulated a number of other conditions that Club Madonna must meet.
And last week, a Florida man was charged with human trafficking, false imprisonment and sexual battery after police say he took advantage of five people from Indiana at his house in the Clearwater area, authorities said. All of the victims were either underage or have some type of mental disability.
Angelina Spencer, a representative for COAST, said club owners want to prevent human trafficking.
“We do it take very seriously,” said Spencer, who is a former dancer. “This business is about entertainment, not enslavement, and it’s really not a good business model to have trafficking victims, and we’re trying to do our part.”