Jackie Toledo calls on Seminole Tribe to combat human trafficking amid Compact negotiations
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Jackie Toledo
Toledo warns that casinos are a common meeting place used by traffickers.

As the Legislature continues to mull over the Seminole Compact — a 30-year agreement governing gaming in the state — Rep. Jackie Toledo is calling on the Seminole Tribe of Florida to help combat human trafficking in its facilities and report data to the state.

In a letter addressed to Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming, Toledo asks for any available data related to human trafficking on tribal lands and in the Tribe’s gaming facilities, as well as the procedures for how cases are prevented and handled. 

“Is there training in place for employees to identify the signs of human trafficking?” Toledo asked in the letter. “Do tribal police receive training to identify human trafficking and are they equipped to conduct investigations? Do tribal police engage in proactive undercover operations to apprehend human traffickers?”

The Tampa Republican sent the letter in the midst of this year’s Special Session, in which lawmakers are considering expanding the state’s gaming laws. Toledo expressed concern that easing gaming policies may increase tourism and lead to more human trafficking. 

“Florida is ranked third in the nation for reports of human trafficking,” Toledo said in a statement. “With the potential expansion of gaming in Florida we will be faced with the likelihood of more traffickers visiting our city and more victims to save in our community. The Tribe must be a partner with (the) state in combatting these horrendous acts.”

In her letter, Toledo warns that casinos are a common meeting place used by traffickers, but they are less likely to promote trafficking if staff is trained to recognize such situations.

“Traffickers will use casinos as a pre-arranged meeting place for buyers or as a venue for solicitation,” Toledo said in the letter. “However, if traffickers know that the staff are trained to spot victims of human trafficking, they are less likely to use these venues for their illicit practices.”

In 2019, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received more than 10,000 calls from victims and survivors in Florida with more than 890 cases reported across the state, Toledo said in the letter. Since 2007, law enforcement in Florida has been able to rescue more than 12,000 victims of human trafficking. 

Toledo, who was appointed as a legislative member of the State Council on Human Trafficking in 2020, invited the Tribe to provide any resources they have on human trafficking to the council on an annual basis.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]



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