Raising awareness for child sex trafficking in Orange County Raising awareness for child sex trafficking in Orange County LONGWOOD -- The people who are involved in raising awareness about child sex trafficking in Central Florida count the Aaron George case as a victory.
George learned Wednesday that he will spend the rest of his life in prison after he was convicted on human trafficking charges.
A 16-year-old told the court that George threatened her to have sex with him and his "clients."
Tomas Lares is the founder of Florida Abolitionists, a group that is trying to prevent further exploitation and to raise awareness about this form of modern-day slavery.
"We had another case a few weeks ago in the U.S. Court where a gang member received almost 20 years in prison for trafficking a 14-year-old girl between the Florida Mall and the Mall at Millenia," Lares said, referring to the Xavier Villanueva case. "She was literally locked in a room, and the gang members would guard her 24 (hours a day), seven (days a week)."
These are just some of the harsh and heartbreaking truths Lares and other anti-child sex trafficking advocates shared with the congregation at Longwood-based Northland, A Church Distributed.
Anthony Davis. Sr. also shared his perspective. He is a former law enforcement officer and member of the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force.
"One thing we have to understand about this in law enforcement with this is we're fighting money," Davis said. "We're fighting greed and those that are looking at the fact that they don't think they can be prosecuted."
It's a problem that hides in the shadows, but child advocates said recruitment happens in the light of the day — at schools and online.
One 14-year-old survivor met her exploiter in downtown Orlando.
"That's when she met her pimp," Lares said. "She thought it was her boyfriend. A lot of these pimps will lure by becoming a friend and, eventually, a boyfriend. And really, their end goal is to exploit them and put them into a sex trafficking ring."
Several child advocates said human traffickers use social media, smartphones and even games with chat functions to recruit more victims.
There will be an informational meeting about child sex trafficking from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, at Lake Eola. For more information go to http://gohttf.org/.
You can report suspected child sex trafficking to 888-373-7888.