On Tuesday morning, the Orange County Commission opened discussions on possible ordinances to fight human trafficking in the region.
Commissioner Pete Clarke introduced the concept after a recent two-year surveillance operation named “Papa Smurf” concluded with eight women rescued from a prostitution trafficking ring and a seizure of drug and guns, which resulted in the arrest of 21 people.
“There is evil in the world” said Clarke, who represents District 3. “This is absolutely pure evil.”
A possible ordinance would require adult entertainment establishments – such as strip clubs and nonmedically affiliated massage businesses – to post a sign notifying workers or visitors to report to the National Human Trafficking Center any people they suspect are being held against their will.
Such ordinances already exist in Palm Beach and Monroe counties, which includes signs posted in Spanish and Creole. Factors for consideration before implementation are jurisdictional enforcement and penalties of noncompliant businesses, which could be a fine that would apply to an awareness fund.
Florida has one of the highest rates for human trafficking in the nation.
“We’ll absolutely move forward” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, who directed staffers to draw up possible language and schedule hearings.
“Very happy about it.” Clarke told FloridaPolitics.com after the hearing.
“It’s something that needs to be addressed. If we can make people aware and keep bad guys off the street, then we’ve done a good job.”