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Hillsborough announces 123 arrests during an operation on human trafficking

Sheriff Chad Chronister in uniform standing at a podium, speaking into a microphone.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister shared the results of Operation Renewed Hope in a video on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

On National Human Trafficking Day, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister announced the arrests of those charged with human trafficking or trafficking-related charges over the last three months.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office announced it made over 100 arrests as part of an operation against human trafficking.

Sheriff Chad Chronister shared the results of Operation Renewed Hope in a press release and video Thursday, on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

“Over the last 90 days, we arrested 123 individuals who were charged with human trafficking or trafficking-related charges,” he said.

Chronister explained how HCSO’s Human Trafficking Squad conducted undercover investigations to make the arrests, including posing as minors or guardians trafficking children.

“In the course of our undercover operations, we have come face to face with individuals from all walks of life, some of whom held positions of trust and authority that shockingly included a teacher, a nurse, basketball coach, and a person employed by a spiritual organization,” Chronister said, adding that detectives notify employers of the arrests.

HCSO arrested six people on human trafficking charges during the 22 days of their undercover investigations, according to the press release.

Chronister also explained the role of organizations in helping human trafficking victims. He mentioned how nonprofits like Selah Freedom join HCSO during operations to speak with victims.

“They don't want to talk to law enforcement. They want to talk to someone that they can trust," Chronister said. “Well, it's been extremely productive. When someone who works at this organization comes and says, 'that used to be me, you used to be me.' If you have the courage to take that first step forward, if you're courageous enough, we can get you the help. And they're getting them that respite care.”

HCSO’s Human Trafficking Squad was formed in June 2021. Since then, they’ve arrested 604 people and charged 36 with human trafficking-related charges, according to the release. Chronister said they’ve also rescued 28 human trafficking victims.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888, available 24/7. You can also text HELP to 233733 (BEFREE).

To report known or suspected abuse of a child or vulnerable adult, you can call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).

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