Attorney General Bondi wants to crack down on human trafficking

By Jason Lanning and Melissa Eichman, Reporters
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 7:36 AM EDT

The victims who survived a Texas human trafficking case that left 10 people dead were likely treated in unimaginable ways, according to the CEO of the InterCultural Advocacy Institute.

James Matthew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, faces charges of illegally transporting immigrants for financial gain, resulting in death.

Authorities discovered eight bodies inside the crowded 18-wheeler parked in the San Antonio summer heat late Saturday, and two more victims died at the hospital.

Bradley could face the death penalty.

The institute's Sandra Lyth has worked with human trafficking victims in unrelated cases.

"They have been brutalized, they have been psychologically entrapped, they have had their documents taken away," Lyth said. "They have been assaulted in every possible way to make them comply with what the trafficker wants them to do."

The Texas case is more of what would be defined as a human smuggling operation - where people pay money to get into the United States. 

Human trafficiking isn't just the transporting of people but also forcing them to do something, usually prostitution or in some cases labor. 

In 2016, the Department of Children and Families had 1900 reported cases of human trafficking, that's a more than 50 percent jump compared to the previous year. 

Attorney General Pam Bondi said human trafficking is a $32 billion business. It's a business she's trying to shut down.

"We've partnered with the trucking association here in Florida because they're our eyes and ears on the road of Florida," Bondi said. "How great is that, because they're driving through the streets, they've been trained on the signs to look for.

"The emergency room physicians came to me and said, 'We think we're seeing signs of human trafficking in the ER, what do we do?' We've trained them."

Lyth and Bondi said the public can help in being proactive by learning the signs, also.

"Does somebody have their docs, are they free to leave, are they being paid for the work that they’re doing?" said Lyth.

Bondi added: "Especially if you see someone who looks malnourished, dehydrated, under the control of someone else. They're being manipulated, their mental health is very poor in that they're very introverted, they're fearful, they're anxious, they won't make eye contact.

"If something looks that suspicious, call it in."