Sheriff’s Team Saves Trafficking Victim

Written by Estero Bay News

February 12, 2021

The Sheriff’s Counter Human Trafficking Team is seeking a man suspected of human trafficking a 15-year-old girl from Nevada for forced prostitution, after they let him go the first time they had him in custody.
According to Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla, on Jan. 26 the Human Trafficking Team, comprised of an investigator from the District Attorney’s Office and a detective and sergeant from the County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Highway Patrol and FBI, were answering online sex ads “as part of the statewide effort to curb human sex trafficking under the umbrella of Operation Reclaim and Rebuild.”
“Detectives answered a sex ad in which the female appeared to be very young, likely under the age of 18,” Cipolla said. “Ultimately, a ‘date’ was arranged and the female subject from the photographs in the sex ad showed up.”
They determined the victim was a 15-year-old, at-risk juvenile, missing out of Nevada. Her enslaver got caught too, but they let him go.
“Additionally,” Cipolla said, “investigators identified a male subject that was in the area, and based upon his behavior, believed to be a possible trafficker of the 15-year old. Investigators were ultimately able to contact the subject after he attempted to flee the area once he realized he was being surveilled by law enforcement.”
“The subject was identified,” Cipolla added, “and was tied to the 15-year-old victim at the scene, however, probable cause for his arrest did not exist at the time of the contact so he was released.”
Cipolla said detectives have since linked the man they let go, as “in fact trafficking the 15-year-old and a warrant/criminal filing will be sought for the trafficker(s).”
The department did not give a description or the name of their suspect in the case. The D.A.’s Victim Advocate was brought in to assist the victim in the case. Others helped too.
“The Counter Human Trafficking Team wishes to acknowledge the support and assistance in this case from the non-profit organization ‘DeliverFund,’” Cipolla said.
There was no word before deadline that they’d located their in-the-wind trafficking suspect.

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