ORLANDO, Fla. – Law enforcement officials, community leaders and survivors of human trafficking met in Orlando Monday to collaborate on the best ways to fight the crime.
Attorney General Ashley Moody delivered opening remarks at the 2019 Florida Human Trafficking Summit and spoke about the challenges across the state.
"We have to get better at determining how pervasive this is in Florida and monitoring our progress," Moody said.
According to the U.S. Human Trafficking Hotline, Florida ranks third in the country for reported human trafficking cases.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said the Department of Children and Families received nearly 2,200 allegations identifying the signs of human trafficking in 2018.
"We, unfortunately, are one of the focal points if you look across the United States in terms of human trafficking. So, we have a responsibility to fight this scourge," DeSantis said.
On Monday, there was talk about new advancements in technology, but a large amount of the discussion also focused on teaching others to report the warning signs of abuse.
"Uber drivers, transportation workers, those in the hospitality industry can recognize when they see human trafficking and report it to law enforcement," Moody said.
Savannah Parvu, a survivor of human trafficking, attended the summit and said she's sharing her story to prevent a similar situation from happening to someone else.
"I was trafficked beginning at the age of 11," Parvu said. "It wasn't until years later that I realized what had happened to me was human trafficking and I wouldn't be in trouble for the things that happened."
Parvu said she's working with law enforcement and other survivors to spread awareness of the crime.
"I think awareness is a big part of what needs to change," Parvu said. "Also, recognizing regular signs of abuse like not being able to answer for themselves, not being able to go places by themselves and not being aware of their surroundings."