Miami airport employees being trained to intercept sex trafficking

March 1, 2012
South Florida is one of the 13 major trafficking hubs in the country, according to the FBI

March 01--Employees at Miami International Airport were trained Thursday to identify and respond to children who are being sexually exploited.

Fifty workers attended a sex-trafficking training session given by Miami-Dade police and personnel from PortMiami and MIA. The workshop is aimed at keeping watch on the tens of thousands of daily passengers who walk through the airport.

South Florida is one of the 13 major trafficking hubs in the country, according to the FBI.

Most recently, on Feb. 17, two men -- former Miami Beach Police officer Lavont Flanders Jr., 41, of Miami Gardens, and Emerson Callum, 45, of Miami -- were sentenced to life in prison for sex trafficking after they lured unsuspecting women to South Florida, slipped them drugs, taped them performing sex acts and sold the images to pornographers.

Last spring, advocates with Kristi House -- a nonprofit that helps sexually abused victims -- said they wanted to prevent child victims from being trafficked through unprepared South Florida airports.

MIA is one of the first U.S. airports to launch this type of training, according to Kristi House.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz, led the sex-trafficking crackdown after he said he realized victims are taken across state lines or international borders through places like Miami International Airport and PortMiami.

About 293,000 young people in the United States are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation, according to Diaz's legislation.

Experts describe these children as runaways who leave abusive and neglectful homes, becoming involved in prostitution for financial support or by force.

Copyright 2012 - The Miami Herald