Over 20 women who are believed to have been trafficked into the United States and forced into the sex trade were rescued in Polk County, Florida.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd noted that most of the women identified as victims of sex trafficking are Cuban and were trafficked across the Mexican border.
Two dozen alleged human trafficking victims have been rescued and more than 200 people have been arrested following a week-long human trafficking operation in Polk County. https://t.co/UiofMIxuWB
— Matthew McClellan FOX 13 (@mcclellantv) February 16, 2023
Judd added that the victims likely started as refugees before coming into contact with human smugglers, often referred to as “coyotes,” who help migrants enter the United States in exchange for a fee. He also noted that it is likely that they were told they would have to engage in prostitution to pay off debt.
Judd noted that the women were threatened with harm to their families back in their home countries if they did not comply with traffickers. A few of the women had arrived in the U.S. within the last 2 weeks, he also stated.
“The human trafficking victim is a very difficult victim to work with, because they are scared,” Sheriff Judd explained.
He also explained that the migrants “told to us that they were paying off their transportation debt, that they were being smuggled into the United States to have sex, that their family at home was being threatened if they didn’t come here and … pay off the debts.” The women are “paying a ridiculous, horrible price,” he added.
Judd also explained that if the federal government truly sought to solve our illegal immigration crisis, they would halt the supply of new migrants:
We don’t do what we need to do … I suggest to you that what we are doing with the immigration issue today is simply this: It’s like you go home this evening, and [discover] ‘Oh my gosh, a pipe is broken and I’ve got water all over the floor.’
The federal government has got water all over the floor and they’re in there trying to mop it up. At least they say they are.
But at the same time, the pipe is still pumping more water onto the floor. The first thing you do if you go home this evening and find a pipe is broken and you’ve got water on the floor is — you go find the source and turn the valve off. Then you mop up and you fix the problem.
An elected official on the school board for San Diego’s Del Mar Union School District named Dr. Scott Wooden was one of the 200 arrests connected to the trafficking victims. Wooden, a molecular biologist who previously owned a massage parlor, allegedly attempted to solicit a prostitute for $200.
Meanwhile, the Del Mar Union School District issued a statement, remarking, “We want to inform you that the Del Mar Union School District received notification that Scott Wooden has resigned from the District’s Governing Board of Trustees effective immediately.”
“The Board is currently exploring options to fill the vacancy. We will keep the community informed as the District moves through this process,” the statement also read.
Judd noted that the victims are being offered an opportunity to get connected with social services and receive help from non-profit organizations such as One More Child. Jodi Domangue, the head of the anti-trafficking unit of One More Child discussed sex trafficking, saying “It most often looks like generations of cyclical poverty and individuals who are desperate to have their needs met for survival,”
Judd explained that they are continuing to investigate who smuggled the victims across the border. “We have caught the buyer and the seller,” he said before adding “That’s what we’ve done today. But we know the buyer and the seller is only the beginning of the chain. It’s not the end of the chain.”
Spencer Lindquist is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerLndqst and reach out at [email protected]