On July 7, 2016, a Jacksonville woman was indicted on federal charges for using force and threats to traffic two other women for sex over the past two years. Shaquana Brookins, 31, is also charged with running a drug house in a room at an EconoLodge in Atlantic Beach.
When a woman is arrested in conjunction with trafficking, many times she has a history of exploitation, herself. This could be the case here. It is symptomatic of large human trafficking operations.
Once sex trafficking rings recruit and manipulate a group of young women, the ladies compete for favoritism among the group, often called a “stable.” (The terms used are to further degrade and treat the victims as less than human.) The trafficker appoints one of these women as the “Bottom B…” Her job is to make sure all the victims earn their quota of money each day and don’t cause any trouble for the trafficker. Often, she is actively involved in recruiting other women into the trafficking ring and punishing those who do not comply.
Once in this position, a woman can be arrested and charged with human trafficking, even though she is also a victim of the crime. Sadly, once at this stage, many of these women will not reach out for help as a victim but will protect their trafficker, who they see as their boyfriend, at all costs. Is this the case with Shaquana Brookins? We may never know.
We must not be naive and think that human traffickers, modern-day slaveholders, only look one way. They could be any race and any gender. School girls and boys recruit teens and pre-teens in their classes. Traffickers are also very active recruiting over the internet where it is easy to hide. They wear many masks.
Victims, like the ones recovered in Jacksonville need ongoing care. The trauma experienced during their two years of exploitation is profound. This is why Florida Abolitionist coordinates their care and partners with long-term shelters to help them heal. They need prayer and a community around them. Join us in providing a future for local victims.