We’re taking a stand against human sex trafficking in Tampa

TAMPA HUMAN SEX TRAFFICKING LAWYERS GIVING VOICES TO VICTIMS

Slavery still exists. And at this very moment, in Tampa Bay and throughout Florida, it’s happening. Our women and men — and sometimes, our state’s children — are being sold for sex. We’re not okay with it. At Darrigo & Diaz, we’re taking a stand against human sex trafficking in Tampa and the surrounding areas.

For us, this starts with holding enabling and facilitating businesses accountable. Hotels, truck stops, casinos, sporting events, and certain websites have long turned a blind eye to human sex trafficking that is occurring on their premises or in their chat portals. This is because they profit from the services being used and paid for while women, men and children are being sexually exploited. Darrigo & Diaz is filing civil lawsuits on behalf of human sex trafficking survivors to let these businesses know that their lack of action is unacceptable.

As a former prosecutor for the Florida State Attorney’s Office, senior partner and Board Certified Civil Trial Specialist Nadine Diaz is driven to achieve justice for survivors of human sex trafficking. She understands the experiences of survivors and takes a non-judgmental approach rooted in patience and trust. We promise to listen to you, believe you, protect you, and do everything in our power to see that justice is served.

National Human Trafficking Hotline

If you or someone you know is currently being trafficked, you can get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline:

Call 1-888-373-7888

Text HELP to BEFREE (233733)

Email help@humantraffickinghotline.org

What is human sex trafficking?

In 2019, more than 48,000 human sex trafficking victims and survivors contacted the United States Trafficking Hotline—a 20 percent increase over the previous year. Throughout the country, the number of human sex trafficking cases is rising, and Florida is no exception. The state of Florida is third in the nation for the highest rates of human sex trafficking.

Human sex trafficking is a growing epidemic here in our Tampa Bay community and worldwide. By definition, it is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity or labor services against their will.

How does human sex trafficking happen?

Human sex trafficking can happen anywhere, to anyone, at any time. In many instances, it is a crime of opportunity, where traffickers take advantage of someone in a vulnerable state or situation. However, while it can happen to anyone, evidence shows that traffickers in Florida habitually target certain groups of people.

People reported to be the most vulnerable to trafficking in the Florida include:

  • Children in foster care and juvenile justice systems
  • Runaway and homeless youth
  • Migrant laborers, including undocumented workers and participants in visa programs for temporary workers
  • Indigenous populations
  • People with limited English proficiency or low literacy
  • People with disabilities
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people

How traffickers lure victims

  • Romantic tactics – one of the most common tactics used by traffickers is seduction of a young woman or man in order to force or coerce them into prostitution. Many times a victim meets the trafficker online and after several exchanges, decides to meet the trafficker in person.
  • Fake job advertisements – traffickers also use fake offers of employment to attract and recruit victims. A trafficker may advertise for a nanny, travel agent, or other jobs in the tourism or hospitality industry. When the victim shows up for the “interview”, any documents he or she brought are seized and the victim trapped and abducted.
  • Abduction – while it is a rarer form of recruitment, abduction is a method that human sex traffickers use. This usually occurs amongst homeless and young runaways and almost always involves some form of drugging.

5 signs of human sex trafficking

Too often, sex traffickers are able to keep their victims in the web of exploitation because sex trafficking can be hard to identify. Here are five common signs that an individual is being human sex trafficked.

  1. The victim demonstrates signs of physical or psychological abuse, such as lacking self esteem, seeming anxious, bruising or untreated medical conditions
  2. The victim acts as if instructed by another, as though they are forced or coerced to carry out specific activities
  3. The victim does not have any form of ID, or someone else possesses their legal documents for them
  4. The victim lets someone else speak or answer for them
  5. The victim is confused about his or her whereabouts

Legal help for human sex trafficking survivors

As a survivor of sex trafficking, you have strong legal rights through America’s civil justice system. You may be able to file suit against the people who exploited you, along with the businesses who assisted them. Holding your abusers accountable is possible and Darrigo & Diaz wants to help.

What is civil justice?

The criminal justice system is not the only way to hold your traffickers responsible for their crimes against you. Civil justice is also a possibility.

When an individual pursues civil justice, he or she brings a claim against individuals and/or businesses to hold them accountable for their gross misconduct and negligence. Civil justice lawsuits often result in the victim receiving financial compensation for their pain and suffering, emotional and mental distress, physical abuse, and loss of quality of life.

Suing the companies who wronged you

What many people do not realize is that human sex trafficking survivors may be able to file a civil lawsuit against companies whose negligence facilitated their exploitation. Hotels, motels, casinos, truck stops, websites, and other entities who willfully turned a blind eye or failed to do their due diligence and/or received money as a direct result of human sex trafficking may be liable to the victim(s).

Any company that knowingly made money off of your suffering and exploitation, when they could have reported this sex trafficking crime, should be held accountable. Here is a list of the main businesses that are the targets of our civil lawsuits.

Hotels, motels, and casinos

More than 70 percent of sex trafficking offenses occur in hotels, while 8 out of 10 arrests for human trafficking occur in or around hotels. The hospitality industry has played an implicit role in the facilitation of human sex trafficking, and now they are being held accountable. Major lawsuits against hotel chains, including Best Western, Hyatt, and Red Lion, are being launched across the United States. These hotel chains either looked the other way when sex trafficking was occurring on their premises, or they did not properly train their staff to spot the signs of sex trafficking. For these reasons, they failed to protect victims of sex trafficking and can be sued.

Truck stops

Truck stops are another popular hub of human sex trafficking. These chains include Flying J, Love’s, Pilot, and Travel Centers of America. Truck stops not only have a steady supply of truckers and travelers willing to pay for sex, they are also often in remote locations. Due to this isolation, truck stops tend to be less monitored by law enforcement and keep victims disorientated and unfamiliar with their surroundings.

Websites

Social media and websites are becoming popular places for traffickers to not only lure potential victims, but set-up transactions. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are increasingly being used to recruit vulnerable women, men and children. In addition, dating websites, such as Tinder, Grindr, and PlentyOfFish, are used by traffickers to cultivate “relationships” with potential victims. These websites have a responsibility to protect their users. If they fail to do so, they can be held responsible.


Why should you file a civil lawsuit and/or injury claim?

For many survivors of human sex trafficking, the thought of filing a lawsuit and going to court in pursuit of restitution may seem overwhelming, intimidating, and possibly confusing. At Darrigo & Diaz, we understand your fears and reservations. We know it may be painful and difficult to revisit that time in your life and we know you may be nervous about filing a claim against your abusers or the businesses involved in the exploitation.

But we want to know that the law is on your side. Under Florida and federal law, you have a voice to speak your truth and take power back from the people who made you suffer. You can even file a claim using only your initials or completely anonymously (using Jane or John Doe) to help protect your identity and security.

You can file a civil lawsuit and/or injury claim against the businesses that enabled and facilitated your abuse. You can receive compensation for many types of damages, such as:

  • Medical costs
  • Rehabilitative care
  • Therapy for traumatization
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lessened enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Financial instability due to difficulty keeping employment
  • Legal costs associated with criminal and civil proceedings

How to pursue a human sex trafficking lawsuit in Tampa

If you or a loved one is a survivor of human sex trafficking in Tampa or the surrounding areas, our compassionate and experienced sex trafficking attorneys care about you and want to help. Led by Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney, Nadine Diaz, our award-winning personal injury department is known for our expertise, results, and dedication to serving our clients. We’ve helped hundreds of people find their voice and stand against injustices—but you have to take the first step.

Contact Attorney Nadine Diaz and her strong legal team today to learn more about your options. Call 813-774-3341 or send us a message online.

Your legal consultation is 100% free and confidential 

Many survivors of human sex trafficking do not speak out because they are fearful of the retaliation from their abusers and big corporations. However, you can trust the attorneys at Darrigo & Diaz to protect you. Your legal consultation is 100% free and confidential. Everything you say stays between us and is protected under attorney-client privilege.

Worried about money?

At Darrigo & Diaz, our attorneys only work on a contingency-fee basis, which means you pay us nothing unless we secure compensation in your case.

We will give you a voice. Call 813-774-3341 now.

If you or a loved one is a survivor of human sex trafficking in Tampa Bay or the surrounding areas, you deserve justice for the abuse, trauma, and suffering you endured. Our compassionate and experienced Tampa human sex trafficking attorneys will help bring justice and the recovery you need. We will be your advocate, fighting for what is right. This modern-day form of slavery must be stopped. Let us help you. We will be your voice and your champion.

Call 813-774-3341 or send us a message online to schedule your free, confidential consultation. You can either meet with us in person or take advantage of our virtual and remote services via telephone or video chat. You can even hire us without ever coming into our office. Contact us to learn more.


Resources for human sex trafficking victims and survivors in Tampa Bay

Many human sex trafficking rings in Tampa and Central Florida use legitimate businesses as a cover for their illegal activities. If you suspect human sex trafficking is occurring somewhere in your city, report it immediately.

To report an immediate emergency

Call 911 to contact your local police department.

To report suspected crimes to a non-government agency

Contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

  • Call 888-373-7888 to speak with an advocate—available 24/7 and all reports are confidential and can be made anonymously
  • Text HELP to BEFREE (233733)
  • Email help@humantraffickinghotline.org
  • Submit an anonymous tip through the website here

To report suspected crimes to law enforcement

Leave an anonymous tip with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

  • Call 1-866-347-2423
  • Submit a tip online here.

To report the sexual exploitation or abuse of minors

  • Call 911 if the child is in immediate danger and needs urgent assistance
  • Contact the National Child Abuse Hotline to speak with a professional crisis counselor at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). Counselors can connect a caller with a local number to report suspected abuse.
  • Call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678)
  • Report online incidents at cybertipline.org

For survivor support and assistance

If you’re a survivor of human sex trafficking, there are local resources available for you in Tampa Bay.

Additional sources of information

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