By Sheriff Marcos R. Lopez
Osceola County Sheriff’s Office
In an effort to fight human trafficking in Osceola County, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the Kissimmee Police Department and St. Cloud Police Department, hosted the 2nd Human Trafficking & Drug Abuse Awareness Conference at the Wyndham Orlando Resort and Conference Center in Celebration on November 2nd, 2023.
The conference educated representatives from the hotel industry on indicators of human trafficking. Typically, narcotics play a substantial role in traffickers controlling their victims. Sheriff Marcos Lopez and guests brought awareness to hotel industry employees about the aspects of human trafficking that often go unnoticed.
The goal of this event is for hospitality employees to alert law enforcement when they see those indicators. This is critical for the success of investigations and ultimately holding traffickers accountable for their crimes. Since hotels and motels are sites for sex and trafficking business operations, our agency wants to ensure that the front-line staff is well-trained in identifying potential signs of the sex trade.
During the event, a new initiative was announced to provide information and support to victims of human trafficking: the Let’s Stop Human Trafficking Stickers to help stop the sex and labor trafficking of women, men, and children. The stickers can be strategically posted in public restrooms in the county.
The Let’s Stop Human Trafficking Stickers contains the emergency number 911 and the hand signal for human trafficking. Individuals hold the palm open to make the signal, tucking the thumb and then closing the fingers over the thumb. The purpose of victims giving this signal is for those receiving it to know that a victim is seeking help.
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office will offer these stickers to the community to help combat human trafficking and drug abuse. For more information, contact our Community Services Department at 407-348-1190.