The war against sex trafficking is going high tech and the Tampa based U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking in Tampa has picked social media as its weapon of choice when it comes to deterring sex buyers. Natalie Kehn, who works on outreach for the group, said the nonprofit combs through thousands of online sex ads and messages potential trafficking victims.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) branches in Tampa and Atlanta launched human trafficking awareness outreach campaigns in recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
“It’s like branding cattle,” said Cpl. Alan Wilkett, who leads Pasco County, Florida’s human trafficking task force. “It’s an ownership mark. Branding is when somebody — a pimp or a trafficker — will put his mark or his symbol or his sign on his victims through some sort of tattoo.”
“From back three years ago, our caseload has tripled,” said Erika Pineros, with Catholic Charities anti-human trafficking program. “It’s like a taboo subject at times and it shouldn’t be because unfortunately it is happening and the most vulnerable population are minors.”
The city’s authorities are training hotel workers, security guards, Uber drivers and truckers to spot the signs that a person might be a victim of trafficking, since these are the people most likely to cross paths with them and have a chance to alert police.
Hillsborough County, FL. Court documents show 40-year-old Rudy Siam made a 14-year-old friend on the Grindr app. But the conversation quickly turns explicit. What Siam doesn’t know is he’s actually texting an undercover Hillsborough County deputy.The purpose of the operation was to find “offenders who use the internet and social media to sexually exploit children,” according to the documents. The two apps they used were Grindr and Whisper.
In 2012, she announced an aggressive initiative to make Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking and modern-day slavery. From there, she forged partnerships with private businesses, community organizations and the Florida Legislature to raise awareness, teach how to spot the signs of human trafficking and pass legislation to strengthen laws.
“This happens to men too,” she said. “I’m working with a man who was taken to Texas. He was held in a pen and had to sleep near the animals. He was fed about every three days. He finally made it back home to his family. Now he’s getting the help he needs.”
With Superbowl LIV less than 2 months away, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced today in West Palm Beach that Florida will not tolerate human trafficking and she’s asking for the public’s assistance in identifying it.
The goal of the operation, Polk County, FL. Sheriff Grady Judd said, was to “identify victims of human trafficking and those who prey on victims, as well as the deviant child predators who stalk children online.”
The six-day sting targeted prostitution, human trafficking and child predators – busting 124 people. The charges included: solicitation, using a computer to lure a child and traveling to meet a minor for sex. , Sheriff Judd of Polk County, FL. explained counselors were immediately available for those who appeared to be human trafficking victims.
Weeks after a human trafficking sting netted more than 100 arrests in Hillsborough County, FL. commissioners took a step Wednesday to eradicate forced labor, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation within its borders.
Hillsborough County deputies recently arrested more than 100 people in connection with a five-month-long undercover investigation surrounding human trafficking. 8 On Your Side is now digging deeper into this growing problem in Florida.
Sheriff Chad Chronister, with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in FL, said among the most disturbing arrests involved Jason Fitzgerald, 36, and Luis Colon, 29. An undercover detective posed as a stepfather with a 14-year-old girl, and arranged a time for the two men to perform sex acts on the fictitious child. The sheriff said the acts they requested to do are “so repulsive, that I won’t even begin to describe them.”
South Florida man, William Foster, 48, formed a fake nonprofit called “Foster’s Care.” Its sophisticated website claimed it provided free service to victims of human trafficking. Foster targeted young women in group homes, shelters, or those working at strip clubs, particularly low-end ones, where the teens were likely to have violent pimps they wanted to escape.
Sgt. Roger Thomas, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, got a “Back the Blue” award Wednesday from Attorney General Ashley Moody. Sgt. Thomas worked beyond his midnight shift to identify the 17-year-old and reunite her with family.
After a recent grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime to fight human trafficking, the International Rescue Committee will work with the Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center on awareness and outreach, as well as offer trauma-informed services to trafficking survivors throughout Leon County, FL, and nearby rural communities.
The Senate Education Committee unanimously passed the bill on Tuesday. The curriculum would be part of public schools’ health education and would focus on how to recognize and understand human trafficking.
Florida law that passed in 2013 allows victims of human trafficking to clear records of arrests that resulted, but process can be slow and complicated. The Justice Restoration Center in Dunedin, FL, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping trafficking victims erase criminal records. Executive director Brent Woody said Florida has the best such law in the nation, and his organization has worked with more than 200 victims.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida says its frequent prostitution stings help curtail human trafficking. But cases are complex and difficult to prove, so few arrests result in prosecutions on trafficking charges.
Anthony J. Miles, of Crestview, FL, recruited the child, provided addictive drugs to the child, and arranged for hotel rooms where he would keep the child to set up appointments with people seeking sexual favors.
“Thanks to many years in the fight, nonprofits have the insight and resources needed to craft effective legislation and policies. USIAHT, for instance, offers a program called the “TraffickingFree Zone” that equips businesses, churches, counties and other communities to reduce demand and combat trafficking.” writes Sharon Bates, an abolitionist with the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking.
Alfred Spaulding, 32, of Ocala, FL, pleaded guilty to human trafficking and other charges. When detectives interviewed Spaulding, he admitted to profiting from his female victim’s sex acts, giving her drugs, and hitting her.
This month, Florida became the first state in the nation requiring sex-trafficking education as part of every student’s curriculum. “Tragically, human trafficking is an epidemic in our country,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said upon passage of the new rule. “Children of all ages need to know and understand the hazards of human trafficking and how to protect themselves from dangerous predators.”
Pace Center for Girls has a specific focus on preventing sex trafficking. Pace Center for Girls works towards long-term solutions by building resiliency through gender-responsive services and support (including physical health, mental health, legal, and education); social emotional learning; and developing coping skills in a safe and trusted environment.
The website allowed customers paying for sex to buy upgraded accounts where they would be able to read and write prostitute reviews, send private messages to prostitutes and view which prostitutes were currently available. Some of the women advertised for escort and prostitution services were minors, authorities said.
Florida will be the first state to require schools to teach K-12 students about child trafficking prevention after the state’s Board of Education unanimously approved the rule on Monday. No other state to date has required that schools provide a human trafficking prevention education. Geoff Rogers, CEO and co-founder of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, commended Florida for its leadership. “We hope more states will follow their lead as we seek to put an end to this terrible crime in the United States,” Rogers said.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office in Sarasota, Florida arrested 23 people during a four-day initiative focused on protecting Sarasota County children from online predators and human trafficking. Suspects ranging in ages from 21 to 77 responded to internet-based ads, online apps, and social media sites to engage in sexually explicit conversations and traveled with the intent of having sex with a male or female child. One of the suspects, John Inga, was visiting Florida from Oklahoma and drove from Lakeland to Sarasota to meet who he believed was a 14-year-old child.
State leaders, law enforcement and experts in the field of trafficking joined survivors at the Human Trafficking Summit Monday in Orlando. Speaking at the summit, Governor Ron DeSantis said ending sex trafficking begins with prosecuting traffickers and clients.
Florida leaders at the state and federal level are hoping to prevent human trafficking through education.
Proposals now in front of the state Board of Education and Congress would make sure kids learn about human trafficking in schools.
Jason Gatlin, 42, of Miami, Florida, is convicted of sex trafficking of a minor, production of child pornography, and witness tampering. “The defendant tricked the 17-year-old victim into believing that he loved her and wanted to marry her. He enticed her with his attention and drugs, gave her money for sex, took photos of them having sex, and lied to her,” authorities stated.
Newly revealed police video takes us inside Jeffrey Epstein’s Florida mansion. The video comes from a 2005 investigation of Epstein’s relationships with underage girls. The footage shows what appears to be the ground floor of Epstein’s home, the upstairs and pool area.
Attorney General Ashley Moody held a meeting Wednesday with the Statewide Council on Human trafficking in Tampa. Hillsborough County Sheriff Chronister and Pasco County Sheriff Nocco spoke to address the Super Bowl being held in Tampa in 2021.
lorida students in grades K-12 would be taught about child-trafficking prevention, under a rule proposed by state education officials. The intent of the rule is to have “every school in Florida be a ‘child trafficking free zone,’ ” according to the proposed regulation published by the Florida Department of Education Tuesday.
Epstein, 66, died two days after writing his will. According to the suits, two of the plaintiffs were 17 at the time the alleged assaults began and one was 20. His death is no impediment to their pursuit of civil claims. A complex system of individuals” that worked “in concert and at his direction for the purpose of harming teenage girls through sexual exploitation, abuse and trafficking.”
Now that pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein is dead, the 57-year-old socialite is the last one standing in a wide-ranging probe into sex-trafficking in Florida and New York of underage girls among the great and the good. One woman claimed that the statuesque heiress also participated in sex romps with the young girls.
With this new digital age, parents have a lot more to worry about when it comes to their kids’ online presence. With several reports of online predators and human trafficking, authorities are reminding parents to watch out for potentially dangerous apps that their kids may be exposed to.
Two bikers from Tampa, FL. are driving over 2,000 miles to let Sturgis know that human trafficking is no longer acceptable and bikers have a responsibility to solve this problem. Over 500,000 bikers plan on attending Sturgis this year, which means the voice of Rainey and Doc can be multiplied across America and spread to the millions.
Asking to help them spread the word on Facebook about a missing girl, a re-sounding alarm was immediately set off. There was no time to waste, because within 24 hours Sally could have been sold and lost forever within the underground network of human trafficking.
Now, she’s not only an advocate, but she’s been appointed by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to the Direct Support Organization for the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, a new initiative to come out of the new Florida law.
Steven Tylor Cook, 29, “We were able to convince one of the individuals that were being trafficked to not live in fear, trust us, come forward and build a case around her,” he said. “With an individual like this, who’s so engaged in criminal behavior, deplorable behavior like human trafficking, today his arrest was not just a win for us as a sheriff’s office, but us as a community.”
The Sarasota County, FL. Sheriff’s Office arrested 25 people during Operation Intercept. The four-day crackdown focused on protecting children from online predators and human trafficking. “The men arrested during this operation managed to blend into society and attempted to prey on children by developing a trust through promises to exploit them for sexual purposes.”
One man, Shavar Allen Manuel, 22, of Tampa, FL. had a child in the back seat of his car while soliciting sex. “To put an end to sex trafficking, it’s very clear that something needs to be done about the buyers, “without buyers, there is no business. Every John off of our streets, we believe we’re potentially protecting a human trafficking victim.”
A former Lake Worth High School teacher Todd Bush was arrested in Orange County, Florida on Thursday for trying to arrange sex with a 10-year-old girl. Bush is currently on sexual offender probation after trying to arrange sex with a 12-year-old girl in 2011.
According to law enforcement, Central Florida is a hotbed for this kind of modern-day slavery. And to make matters worse, victims are getting younger and younger, with pimps now recruiting elementary school-age children. But human trafficking survivor Savannah Parvu, who was 11 years old when she was sold for sex, knows a much darker side.
Most sex traffickers aren’t millionaires who abuse girls in their mansions in Manhattan and Palm Beach. Sex trafficking usually happens right under our noses, and traffickers are often those we least suspect.
Palm Beach County, FL- Roger DeHart is lacing up his sneakers once again, embarking on another long-distance walk to raise awareness of human trafficking. This walk will be around 650 miles and will take about a month and a half to complete.
Keto Postemus of Delray Beach, FL. area who turned 23 on Wednesday, faces two counts each of sex trafficking involving a minor and labor trafficking involving a minor. One victim alleged that Postemus told her she needed to make money for him and made her work in a strip club as an exotic dancer. She allegedly used false identification to secure the job.
The signing of HB-851 by Gov. DeSantis of Florida comes on the heels of 85 people arrested in “Operation Trade Secrets” — a months-long human trafficking sting in the Tampa area. The new law includes the creation of a database of people convicted of soliciting prostitution, and placing new requirements on the operation of massage parlors, strip clubs and hotels.
Hillsborough County, FL. deputies rounded up dozens of men and women suspected of sex-related crimes as part of a six-month operation targeting human traffickers. Suspects face a range of charges including sex trade, child pornography, etc. The arrests took place at hotels, motels, spa and massage businesses, strip clubs, and adult book stores throughout the county.
Evan Vollerthum of was arrested for aggravated human trafficking and attempted commercial sexually exploit a child under the age of 18 and is in custody at the Shawnee County (Kansas) Department of Corrections on $500,000 bond, according to jail records.
Frontline tells the unimaginable stories of young women coerced into prostitution – and follows one police unit that’s committed to rooting it out. They showed how a sixteen year old girl from Phoenix, AR. was lured into being a victim of sex trafficking.
The outcome of her interview would help determine whether Martin County, Fl. could prove the owners of five massage parlors its deputies raided are not just pimps, but human traffickers holding women against their will.
Luis Manuel Berrios-Trinidad, 29, of Tampa, Fl. was arrested on a criminal complaint charging him with the human trafficking of minors. If convicted, Berrios-Trinidad faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison.
BOYS ARE INVISIBLE VICTIMS IN SEX TRAFFICKING:
Last month, the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking’s safe home for underage male victims of human trafficking – one of the first boys safe home in the country – admitted a new resident. He’s 10 years old!
Opinion By Geoff Rogers | Fox News
According to Lee County, Fla. investigators, of the 15 people arrested, some were teachers, youth leaders, city employees, and business owners.
Here is a complete list of the suspects arrested in the operation:
State lawmakers are pushing a bill that would create a public database, similar to the state’s registry of sex offenders, that would list the names, photographs and addresses of pimps and johns who are convicted.
The U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking is partnering with Florida’s Pasco County Commission on Human Trafficking and Pasco County Public Transportation to train more than 100 PCPT employees to identify and report human trafficking.
“In many ways, we view bus drivers as those on the front lines to combat human trafficking as they engage with thousands of people a day,” said Geoff Rogers, CEO and co-founder of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking.
He had been in on it all along — and made her think she was, too. Sara was in shock, unsure how it all happened. For nine months, she said he trafficked her for sex from Naples to Tampa, Orlando, Miami and back again. Night after night, he pretended she had all the power.
The 40-year-old woman at a treatment center in Marion County has been taken into custody on a warrant from another county for two counts of human trafficking. Mekisha Lashaun Russ is alleged to have involved an 8-year-old girl in Tampa, Fl.
Within hours, she said, she was being told to have sex with strangers for money. Thomas and an accomplice, Shanteria Sanders, gave her the drug Molly, a form of the amphetamine MDMA, marijuana and liquor to keep her compliant.
One suspect 34-year-old James Michels of Polk County, FL. traveled to meet with an undercover detective posing as a 14-year-old boy. Michels was HIV-positive yet told the undercover detective that he was not, and that he wanted to have unprotected sex.
“You’re going to have tens of thousands of extra people in your city,” Fernandez Rundle said. “My office wants to make sure we’re ready. Our concern is that a lot of predators will bring other dancers and their victims that work in strip clubs. We have seen that with other major destinations.”
Edie Rhea is a survivor of sex trafficking. Her formative years were largely spent being sold for sex by her mother’s boyfriend. It began when she was 10 and lasted until she was 17 years old. Brook Bello, like Rhea, experienced sexual abuse before being forced into sex trafficking.Their stories of rape and assault are not unique among survivors.
Matthew Doyle, 39, was arrested by FDLE agents in Spring Hill, FL. He faces charges of human trafficking, lewd and lascivious behavior on a victim between 12 and 16 years old and unlawful use of a two-way communications device.
Corporal Alan Wilkett said boys rarely admit or identify themselves as human trafficking victims. He said that’s often discovered by law enforcement after they’re picked up for other crimes.
“So it may be shoplifting or a drug charge or it could be a trespass,” Wilkett said.
Corporal Alan Wilkett heads the human trafficking division of the Pasco County, FL. Sheriff’s Office.
Wilkett said boys rarely admit or identify themselves as human trafficking victims.
Corporal Alan Wilkett heads the human trafficking division of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.
“As I always say, every issue does not necessarily need a law if people are willing to take on these issues voluntarily,” Attorney General Ashley Moody, who chairs the statewide Council on Human Trafficking, said Friday during a meeting of the panel.
Strip clubs will be classified as adult theaters to ensure they’ll be regulated by the state under a legislative crackdown aimed at preventing human trafficking. Bill classifies strip clubs as adult theater so state can regulate them, protect childrenStuart Rep. Toby Overdorf co-sponsored House Bill 851 and added the adult-theater classification, in part to ensure strip club owners don’t hire underage employees.
Congressman Matt Gaetz pointed out there are an estimated 9,000 illicit massage parlors in the U.S.–more than Starbucks’ 8,222 locations. In 2018, Florida had 376 cases of human trafficking reported to the national hotline. Only California (760) and Texas (455) had more.
Jeffrey Farrell Davis, 36, who taught middle school in a Gainesville, Florida was among the men who responded to ads on Backpage.com offering a 14-year-old girl for sex. The child was delivered to so-called johns at homes and motels across north central Florida. Davis has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
Lee County, FL. Health is working with Christy’s Cause to educate medical professionals on the signs of human trafficking victims. It all started when an ER nurse noticed an increased number of human trafficking victims.
The vote was 112-0 Thursday for the bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Patricia Williams of Fort Lauderdale and Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia of Titusville, FL. The measure would include human trafficking in the health classes currently taught in Florida public schools.
Human trafficking cases initiated in fed court dropped 29% last yr. This survivor has a message for people who think it’s not happening here: “I was trafficked in Jacksonville in the year 2013 for about nine months… It’s definitely happening in Jacksonville.” said Jenna Bourne
Data shows that Hillsborough County has one of the highest occurrences of human trafficking in the nation, and one county commisioner is trying to shine light on an industry that’s thrived in the shadows. Commissioner Kimberly Overman wants to train Hillsborough County Parks Department’s summer camp staffers on how to spot the tell-tale signs of abuse. and what to do if they suspect something is wrong.
A Bay Area nonprofit is helping law enforcement officers look beyond a simple traffic stop or domestic violence call to spot the signs of human trafficking.
Officers don’t have to be in a special trafficking unit to learn what to look for to spot a potential victim using a new, free online certification program through U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking. It covers human trafficking in the forms of labor, sex, cyber, forced marriage and servitude. It was created to be accessible for all law enforcement officers.
A Zephyrhills man is behind bars after deputies say he had sex with a 15-year-old runaway. Deputies say Jael Aguayo, 24, offered the victim a hotel room and Xanax in exchange for sex with him and his friend.
The most recent case of human trafficking that I have been involved in, and they are many, is that of Angelica, a 15-year-old girl sold by her mother to her employer. This boss is a rough, crude man, the owner of several mini-buses, from which he earns a lot of money that enables him to buy children for sexual abuse.The most recent case of human trafficking that I have been involved in, and they are many, is that of Angelica, a 15-year-old girl sold by her mother to her employer. This boss is a rough, crude man, the owner of several mini-buses, from which he earns a lot of money that enables him to buy children for sexual abuse.
Children in Florida public schools would be taught about the dangers and warning signs of human trafficking under legislation headed to the state House floor. The House Education Committee voted unanimously Tuesday for the bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Patricia Williams of Fort Lauderdale. The measure would include human trafficking in the health classes currently taught in Florida public schools.
Michael Harrison Hunt, 53, of Panama City, FL. has been charged with human trafficking and sexual battery on a victim under the age of 18, according to a release from Panama City. He continues to be a person of interest in the quadruple shooting Friday that left one dead and three seriously injured.
A Tampa firefighter was among four men arrested for solicitation in Hillsborough County, according to the sheriff’s office. Brian Hatzler, 46, is a Tampa Fire Rescue firefighter. The sheriff’s office says he was in his duty uniform when he solicited sexual acts from an undercover detective. Hatzler was arrested along with 30-year-old Curtis Hargrove, 44-year-old Lucio Martinez and 25-year-old Jawuan Hicks.
When Florida authorities shut down 10 massage spas last month and charged hundreds of men with buying sex, they broke a longstanding pattern of meting out minor charges and punishment for owners, letting patrons off scot-free and turning a mostly blind eye to signs of human trafficking.
Ten spas have been closed, and several people have been taken into custody on sex trafficking charges. The owner of Orchids of Asia Day Spa, 58-year-old Hua Zhang, was arrested Tuesday on 29 prostitution and related charges. Police in her arrest report said they watched video of her employees performing various sex acts with two dozen customers.