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Human Trafficking in SWFL

Human Trafficking in SWFL

By John Rupolo. CREATED Sep 24, 2012

Was she a glorified pimp?  Naomi Vasquez of Labelle charged and convicted for selling sex. She set up a forced sex operation involving young women that serviced Southwest Florida.

"They were kept as slaves," asked the reporter.   "Yah," said Vasquez.

Human trafficking is no longer an international problem - it has come into our neighborhoods, according to Crimestoppers Director Trish Routte.

"Alot of people when they think of human trafficking there thinking international people coming in from other countries and being trapped into a life of slavery," said Routte.

Although that remains a reality  SWFL remains a problem area in what's now being called domestic human trafficking.

Nola Theiss, Director of Human Trafficking Awareness Partnership, says there are two avenues now being used by human traffickers in SWFL.  One of them is massage parlors.  Just last week, Governor Rick Scott suspended the licenses of 81 so called therapists who obtained their licenses illegally.

"They are not certified massage parlors.  They may provide massages but they provide sex acts as well,' said Theiss.

Theiss says the massage parlor business is very prevalent in SWFL and enforcement of certifications doesn't  happen enough.

"Are the owners of these places, are they criminals,"  asked Fox 4's John Rupolo.

"Absolutely, they are traffickers and they see themselves as businessmen,' said Theiss.

Another avenue for human trafficking, accroding to law enforcement is the site Backpage.com. Girls of all ages offering their services.  Some women are being forced into this lifestyle.

JOHN RUPOLO

FOX 4 NEWS