2020-11-19 14:01

'Operation Stolen Innocence': More than 170 charged in Florida child sex trafficking network 7nY世界播


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A two-year investigation by the Tallahassee Police Department into the horrific sexual exploitation of a teenage girl netted a staggering amount of arrests, with more than 170 people charged over recent months. 7nY世界播


On Tuesday, Tallahassee police chief Lawrence Revell and state and federal officials announced results of Operation Stolen Innocence, a highly secretive investigation into the commercial sex trafficking of the girl, who was 13 and 14 when the alleged offenses occurred. 7nY世界播

周二,塔拉哈西警察局长劳伦斯·雷维尔(Lawrence Revell)以及州和联邦官员宣布了被盗无辜行动的结果,这是一项高度保密的调查,针对这名女孩的商业性交易。被指控的罪行发生时,女孩分别为13岁和14岁。7nY世界播

The investigation, which police officials declined to even acknowledge for months, was likely the biggest of its kind in Tallahassee’s history, Revell said. 7nY世界播


Those swept up in the investigation include a former write-in candidate for local office, a P.E. teacher and a former chairman of Seminole Boosters Inc., a fundraising arm for Florida State University athletics. Several of the defendants are women, charged with helping to arrange paid “plays” with the girl in exchange for cash. 7nY世界播

被卷入调查的人包括一名前地方官员候选人,一名体育教师和塞米诺尔助推器公司(Seminole Boosters Inc.)的一名前董事长,塞米诺尔助推器公司是佛罗里达州立大学(佛罗里达州立大学)田径项目的筹款机构。其中几名被告是女性,被控帮助安排与女孩的有偿“玩耍”,以换取现金。7nY世界播

"I know it's hard to believe that something like this happens here in our community," said Lorena Vollrath-Bueno, felony chief for the State Attorney's Office. "But it does." 7nY世界播

州检察官办公室的重罪负责人洛雷娜·沃尔拉斯-布埃诺(Lorena Vollrath-Bueno)说:“我知道很难相信这样的事情会发生在我们的社区里。”“但事实的确如此。”7nY世界播

The investigation began in late 2018 after investigators spotted the girl in an online sex-for-pay listing. 7nY世界播


The Tallahassee police Special Victims Unit set out to rescue the child, who cooperated in efforts to bring charges against the people who exploited her. Revell praised the police work. 7nY世界播


"The arrests in this operation are the culmination of the diligent work from our dedicated investigators, who have worked tirelessly to bring justice to the victims in this case," he said. "I cannot say enough about the work that you all did and how proud I am of each of you.” 7nY世界播


Numerous agencies worked with police in the investigation: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the State Attorney’s Office and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. 7nY世界播


U.S. Attorney Larry Keefe vowed to continue going after child sex traffickers. Nearly 20 of the defendants, including some from out of state, face federal charges. 7nY世界播

美国检察官拉里·基夫(Larry Keefe)誓言要继续追捕儿童性贩子。近20名被告,包括一些来自其他州的被告,面临联邦指控。7nY世界播

“We in local, state and federal law enforcement are all working together as a team to dismantle their networks and to pursue, prosecute and punish those who are involved,” he said. “Operation Stolen Innocence is an excellent example of how all levels of law enforcement can put it all together and get it done, to take down a child trafficking network right here in our community.” 7nY世界播


Victim's existence was 'horrific' 7nY世界播


Police would not discuss details that could identify the victim – including whether her mother was involved or charged in the sex trafficking ring. 7nY世界播


A number of defendants told investigators during sworn interviews that the girl’s mother wouldn’t allow anyone to have sex with her unless they brought money or drugs, according to police reports. Others described encounters that happened inside a filthy apartment and hotels and motels across town. 7nY世界播


The meetings were arranged over text messages, Facebook and other social media and apps, leaving a vast electronic trail of evidence that took investigators months to unravel. 7nY世界播


Elizabeth Bascom, one of the lead police investigators, called the girl’s exploitation “horrific.” She said the abuse probably began even before her 13th birthday. 7nY世界播

警方首席调查员之一伊丽莎白·巴斯康姆(Elizabeth Bascom)称这名女孩的剥削行为“令人毛骨悚然”。她说,虐待可能在她13岁生日之前就开始了。7nY世界播

Revell said the girl is “on the road to recovery, and she’s doing well given the situation.” Bascom said the girl plans to testify in court, though it’s unclear at this point how many of the cases will go to trial. 7nY世界播


“She does have things to say,” Bascom said. “She was able to say that this has seriously impacted her life, and it is very difficult at times. But she is working to get her life back.” 7nY世界播


‘Any child can be at risk’ 7nY世界播


Vollrath-Bueno, a veteran prosecutor of child sex crimes, said human trafficking is a $150-billion-a-year global industry, with nearly two-thirds of the profit coming from commercial sexual exploitation. 7nY世界播


She said estimates suggest 50,000 people are trafficked each year in the United States alone. 7nY世界播


“The exact numbers ... are hard to define because human trafficking, like many crimes, lives in the dark,” she said. “It is notoriously underreported.” 7nY世界播


Vollrath-Bueno said victims can be adults or children, male or female and exploited for sex or labor. In the U.S., she said, the average age a child enters the sex trade is 12 to 14. 7nY世界播


“Children with low visibility in the community, unstable home lives, mental health issues, drug issues, frequent runaways, are most at risk,” she said. “I say ‘most’ because any child can be at risk.” 7nY世界播


Investigators urged victims and people who are aware of victims to speak out. People can report information to the Human Trafficking Hotline by calling 1-888-373-7888. 7nY世界播


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