By David Sutta

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was in South Florida on Thursday, holding a roundtable to discuss human trafficking.

It’s a problem the area has seen a lot of and is trying to tackle with a special task force.

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Thursday’s roundtable was essentially a photo op but also an effort to bring more awareness to the problem.

“I did not come to Southern Florida to talk about human trafficking because you need me to tell me what to do,” Rosenstein said. “I really are because I really admire what you are doing here.”

In 2011 South Florida became testing ground for a human trafficking task force.

Local, state and federal law enforcement banded together to go after an industry that flourished in the shadows.

“The best way to describe it is really lightning in a bottle,” said John Tobone with Homeland Security Investigations.

Since they began they say they have nabbed 92 offenders in 52 cases.

The number they are most proud of is the 75 victims that have been rescued.

A number of community organizations have become a part of the task force.

Each helping victims get their lives back. Rosenstein took an interest in Amor Sierra.

“I was a little bit interested in why we had a tattoo artist,” Rosenstein said.

Outraged by a practice called branding, Sierra bought a tattoo parlor on Miami Beach to put a stop to it.

“What they do is that they tattoo their victims with the name of a pimp, a barcode, with a crown,” Sierra explained. “There is some trafficking organizations that actually have a database on the dark web of these tattoos.”

Rosenstein was going to take what he heard from the discussion back to Washington.

He suggested the model in South Florida may be replicated elsewhere.

“This can work. You can change people’s lives,” Rosenstein said. “People who have been victimized and then you can prevent people from experience that in the future.  And everytime we prosecute one of these cases successfully we are protecting an untold number of people from being victimized from that defendant and other co-conspirators.”

Rosenstein left without taking questions from the media.


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