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DeSantis signs bills designed to crack down on human trafficking

Human trafficking involves the exploitation of people through means such as forced prostitution, involuntary labor, or debt bondage.
Airman 1st Class Kyle Cope
/
U.S. Air Force
Human trafficking involves the exploitation of people through means such as forced prostitution, involuntary labor, or debt bondage.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a series of measures this week designed to help crack down on human trafficking. During a bill-signing event at Coastal Community Church at Lighthouse Point, DeSantis tied the legislation to other efforts by the state aimed at immigration enforcement. “

We've worked hard in the last couple years on the interdiction of human smuggling and trafficking rings coming into Florida from the southern border, mostly through I-10 and the Florida Panhandle,” DeSantis said. “And we're proud to take the lead on that. It has led to a lot of arrests, a lot of people taken off the streets who were really bad news.”

One of the measures (SB 7064) signed this week will increase to third-degree felonies the charges that owners or operators of adult-entertainment businesses can face for failing to verify ages and identities of workers.

READ MORE: 'It's Cruel and Unusual Punishment': State Senator Lauren Book Talks Abortion And Human Trafficking

The bill, which will take effect July 1, also will allow victims to file civil lawsuits against adult-entertainment businesses that don’t take proper steps to detect human trafficking. Another measure (HB 1465), in part, will add to the state’s “10-20-Life” mandatory-minimum sentencing law. The bill will add offenses involving human trafficking where people possessed or discharged guns. The change will take effect Oct. 1.

DeSantis also signed a bill (SB 1690) that includes new regulations for safe houses for adults who have been sexually exploited or trafficked. The measure requires staff training, security and services for people staying at the safe houses.

The law, which will take effect July 1, also will eliminate the possibility of hotels and other lodging establishments avoiding fines after the first time they are found to have failed to comply with rules about trafficking-related signs and training.

In a prepared statement, Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, D-Davie, called the legislation “bipartisan work,” which addresses “the horrific realities of human trafficking, a crime which takes place hidden in plain sight in every single community across the state.”

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