Human trafficking often goes unreported in Pahokee area

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Human trafficking is happening in local communities, some more than others.

It’s why the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is sounding the alarm to alert residents of what could be happening right next door.

But the agency’s plan might not work everywhere.

PBSO deputies have gone door to door in rural areas encouraging people to speak up when they see something.

The problem is many are too afraid because of their legal status.

Residents in Pahokee listened as deputies educate them on modern day slavery.

“The police in their countries can not be trusted," a PBSO deputy said. "So that trafficker instills that same fear in them with us here and that's obviously not the case."

“Out in the Glades area, these folks who are targets for labor trafficking, many maybe undocumented individuals and they may have a fear of law enforcement and a fear of being deported,” said Nicole Bishop, Director of Palm Beach County Victim and Justice Services.

Even those who are not victims might be too afraid to intervene.

“They don’t want to be seen as being in collaboration with law enforcement," Bishop said. "They might be fearful for harm to themselves or others."

Bishop said In some cases, non victims refuse to report what they know and see because of their legal status.

They don't trust an anonymous call will protect their identity.

But Bishop wants people to know that shouldn't keep them from possibly saving someone’s life.

“I know the sheriffs office is not pro arresting people or deporting people for assisting with any type of crime, so they can get assistance,” she said.

Bishop said the government provides immigration benefits to certain victims who help law enforcement with an investigation or prosecution of a human trafficking case.