HOMESTEAD (CBS4) – Florida is one of the top three worst states in the country for human trafficking. The Homestead area alone sees as many as 50 new cases every year, and countless others go unreported.
Flor Arzuaga is Homestead’s secret weapon to fight human trafficking. Armed with tiny brochures that can be easily hidden, and fliers that are meant to draw attention she spreads the word about this modern day slavery.
“Human trafficking is happening in our neighborhoods, behind closed doors and behind our yards. It’s happening. It’s important that having the literature, having a phone number where they can call, having an agency that’s there that can help them,” Arzuaga told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.
Arzuaga is a victim’s advocate for Project SOS, a small non-profit group that works under the Homestead Police Department. For 21 years Project SOS has assisted all kinds of people in need including human trafficking victims.
“We work with our partners to get them into housing, get them into school, get them to work. Then we work together with another partner agency to get them a temporary permit to be here,” explained Arzuaga.
With a large migrant population and a huge tourism industry, Homestead Police Chief Alexander Rolle Jr. says South Florida is a hot spot for human trafficking. Often, the forced servitude is sexual. He saw that recently with a teenage victim.
“They would use her to do sexual favors for the guys in the community, out of the community and the guys would get paid. We just want people to know that’s not the way it is in this country and they should come forward,” said Chief Rolle.
As a rape and domestic abuse survivor, Arzuaga is personally devoted to making sure others, especially children, do not live locked up in the shadows.
“It’s difficult to work with a child who should be in school, playing with other kids- She’s at home being treated like a slave.”
CBS4 is a proud media sponsor of “Fashion for Charity”, a charity fashion show set for September 17th, that will in part benefit Project SOS. For more information click here: www.fashionforcharityevents.com