Human Trafficking in Marion County
Published April 30th, 2013
About 70,000 people in the United States are trafficked annually.
Many cases go unreported.
Most people believe human trafficking only happens in large cities, but the truth is it's happening right here in our community.
"I've seen it in movies on television and other places, but not here in Marion County," said Aaron Beard.
"It's kind of scary because I have my teenager growing up," Lizette Torres.
The Marion County Human Trafficking Task Force is currently working on three cases and the Ocala Police Department is working on another.
Most of them are for sex trafficking.
"Itis a growing trend and it's not that it's just occurring, it's just that more people are starting to recognize it for what it is and it's being reported as human trafficking," said Master Sergeant Jerry Bevan who is the co-founder of the task force.
Bevan said criminals have changed the way they traffic their victims.
"A lot of the girls now are being pimped out on the internet so they are not even going on the street corner. It's all in calls, going to hotel rooms, going to houses and things of that nature, but it can be anywhere in Marion County," said Bevan.
The first human trafficking case in Marion County was back in 2010.
John Dillenger Morgan was arrested and charged with domestic minor sex trafficking.
His victims were only 16 and 13 years old.
"He had taken them to two separate house parties. Prostituted them out of a local hotel and was charging anywhere form $50 to $100 per girl per sex act," said Bevan.
Morgan pled guilty last year.
While some criminals like morgan are behind bars, others are still out there and their victims are waiting to be found and freed.
"I'd rather have 15 people call in and it turn out to be nothing. Then the one person who actually finds a victim and says well I am not really sure and doesn't do anything about it," said Bevan.
Signs someone may be a victim of human trafficking:
Change of behavior
Multiple motel keys
Victims usually call their pimps "daddy"
Evidence of physical abuse like bruises
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