Local hotel employees attend training on human trafficking

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) The United States is one of the most common places in the world for human trafficking, and Florida is one state where it happens the most.

It's now the law in Florida. Find out the training many hotel and motel workers must go through that helps combat a rampant crime, human trafficking. (WJHG/WECP)

"A lot of trafficking is domestic. You can be born in Panama City, raised in Panama City and trafficked in Panama City," said Laurie Lawrence with the State Attorney General's Human Trafficking Task Force of the 14th Circuit Court.

Officials with the Department Of Florida Children And Families say most trafficking activity happens in hotels. That's why the State Attorney General's Human Trafficking Task Force of the 14th Circuit Court system held a training session in Panama City Beach Wednesday at Laketown Wharf Resort to teach hotel professionals ways to prevent it.

"Housekeeping is constantly being called for towels or fresh linen," said Lawrence, "When the housekeeping goes in they see paraphernalia, phones, cash lots of things like that lying around, these are indicators. When they see that and these departments work together there is enough red flags to incite and investigation.”

Cherie Crim with the State Attorney General's Human Trafficking Task Force of the 14th Circuit Court said, "When you know the warning signs and you know what to look for then you can report."

Event organizers say due to a recent state law that went into effect this year, front desk and housekeeping staff at public lodging areas are required to learn about human trafficking awareness within 60 days of their employment.

Event organizers say the hotel staff must also be trained on ways to prevent human trafficking each year. Event organizers also say if the hotels and lodging locations do not follow the guidelines and train their staffs. They'll be subject to fines of up to $2,000 a day.

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