by Joe Wilhelm Jr.
Goal is to raise awareness of human trafficking
A walk will take place Saturday to draw attention to the acts of human slavery that are still being suffered in the United States and abroad.
Currently, victims of human trafficking include 12.3 million adults and children involved in forced labor and sexual servitude, according to the United Nations International Labor Organization estimates. Children will be the focus of the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Task Force’s “Stop Child Trafficking Now Walk” Saturday, but the goal is to put a spotlight on the growing business that is human trafficking.
“The task force brings together law enforcement and government agencies with private services, shelters and attorneys,” said Crystal Freed, co-chair of the task force and an attorney with The Freed Group. “It helps bring people with different skill sets together to help victims of human trafficking.”
The walk will start and end in San Marco Square, at San Marco Street and Atlantic Boulevard, with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. and the walk scheduled to start shortly after at 8:15 a.m. Before the walk kicks off at 8:15 a.m., task force co-Chairs Freed and Lt. Mike Eason of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will be joined at a press conference by a representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Mayor John Peyton’s Chief of Staff Adam Hollingsworth and former Jacksonville Jaguars Joel Smeenge and Todd Fordham.
Other walks are planned by other organizations in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Dallas.
“This problem is global, and the United States is not immune. It is estimated that up to 500,000 of U.S. citizen-children are trafficked,” said Freed. “In October 2008, Marvin Madkins was convicted in Jacksonville under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). It focuses on the 3-Ps — protection of the victim, prevention of the crime and, of course, prosecution of the criminal. Why did it take so long for this crime to be detected? The girls were so-called ‘throw away kids.’”
In March, a jury found Madkins guilty of two counts of sex trafficking of minors and one count of transporting minors across state lines for prostitution.
After the trial, U.S. Attorney Brian Albritton reported, “according to evidence presented at trial, Madkins recruited two minors from the state of Virginia to engage in prostitution in Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida, knowing that force, fraud, or coercion would be used to cause the minors to engage in commercial sex acts. Madkins promised the minors that if they would serve as prostitutes in Virginia for a short period of time, they and he would earn enough money to go to Florida for an extravagant vacation. Madkins also told the minors that, once in Florida, he would obtain cocaine, sell it, and use the proceeds from the drug sales to fund trips to Miami, Atlanta and New York.”
People interested in participating in the walk can register at http://sctnow.org. To make a donation to “Stop Child Trafficking Now” go to: http://sctnow.donordrive.com/participant/crystalfreed.
Major Forms of Trafficking in Persons
• Forced Labor
• Involuntary Domestic Servitude
• Sex Trafficking
• Child Sex Trafficking
• Bonded Labor
• Forced Child Labor
• Child Soldiers
• Debt Bondage Among Migrant Laborers