In hopes to crack down on human trafficking at Miami International Airport, officials are rolling out a program to fight what they call a growing problem.
The Blue Lightning Initiative is taking off at MIA.
Nearly 1,400 airport employees will get trained through the program.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava hopes it helps.
“I think it’s so incredibly important that this gateway airport for international and domestic travelers is going to be proactive,” she said.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is helping with this program at MIA. The department said in 2020, law enforcement arrested more than 1,700 traffickers and saved more than 400 victims. MIA is the first airport in Florida to join this initiative.
“We are talking about major crime center and we have to take all the stuff that we can to crack down on it,” said Levine Cava.
Federal officials said public awareness is important and point out the signs that people can look for while at the airport.
“There’s always some sort of power or control being exerted over these poor victims,” said Anthony Salisbury, with Homeland Security Investigations. “You’re looking for a lack of freedom of movement, you’re looking for permission, someone asks for permission to go to the bathroom. You’re looking certainly at the counters where someone doesn’t have possession of their travel documents.”
Salisbury said law enforcement can’t do this alone.
“Police can’t be everywhere and see everything so the more people they put eyes on this problem and awareness on this problem it increases our visibility of it,” he said.
A spokesperson for the airport tells NBC 6 all new employees will get this training, with plans to expand the program to airline workers as well.
“All eyes are on it and everybody has the information that we should be able to really identify people who are at risk and fix this problem,” said Levine Cava.