Massive Florida Human Trafficking Bust Included Teacher, Nurse
A massive human trafficking sting in Florida took down over 100 alleged participants, including a nurse, a teacher and a spiritual leader.
Operation Renewed Hope was carried out through the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Human Trafficking Squad. Officers worked undercover at local hotels to lure victims and perpetrators out of the shadows, and some engaged in online chats posing as minors.
Sheriff Chad Chronister explained that much of the operation was conducted outside of school hours when children were more present online. Some detectives acted as if they were guardians of minors offering “services” from the children.
He declared the goal was to not have those facilitating human trafficking to believe they had “a free pass because of the holidays.”
Chronister recounted that of the 123 people busted in the sting, notables included a basketball coach, a nurse and a spiritual teacher. “These are individuals who betrayed our trust,” he told local media.
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The sheriff said those participating in the illicit activities were well aware of the evil nature of their actions.
Chronister said the suspects “know what they are doing is wrong…they drop their cell phones somewhere else before they show up.” It is clear they do not want their spouses to be able to track their location while they are involved with young victims.
Since the launch of the county’s Human Trafficking Squad, a staggering 604 people have been arrested. Trafficking charges were made against 36 of the suspects.
Even more laudable was the number of victims freed from the grips of this insidious practice. Chronister credited the hard work of Hillsborough County law enforcement to rescue these young people.
He explained, “What I find even more impressive is the fact this squad has rescued 28 people from the grips of human trafficking. That is 28 people whose lives were saved thanks to the hard work and dedication of the men and women on this team.”
Photographs of those arrested in the sprawling sting showed a disturbingly wide array of suspects. These men swept up by investigators came in all ages and demographics, with the only common feature being an apparent desire to commit evil acts.