Thursday November 19, 2020
Florida police, Feds bust massive child trafficking ring
More than 170 men and women are facing state and federal charges after their arrest in connection with a massive human child trafficking ring in Florida. The arrests took place on Nov. 17 following two-year investigation by the Tampa Florida Police Department (TPD) along with personnel from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other agencies
Human trafficking of minors involves the child being manipulated or forced into some type of labor or commercial sex act. Every year, millions of individuals are trafficked worldwide. The base of human trafficking are the buyers, those charged with misdemeanors for solicitation of prostitution. Without buyers, human trafficking would not exist in such large numbers.
According to Barry Bucciarelli, chief operations officer (COO) for iBucci Corp., developers of the MoVi® App., the arrests underscore the importance of parents’ need to protect their children from predators.
MoVi® ,short for Mobile Vigilance, is an Android Mobile App for cellphones and tablets that monitors both incoming and outgoing images that appear on a child’s mobile devices, and gives parents alerts anytime Adult Content is detected. At the same time, any inappropriate pictures or images associated with the alert are sent directly to the parent’s phone.
“Helping parents protect their children from child traffickers and other predators are exactly the reasons why we developed the MoVi® app,” Bucciarelli said. “We commend the Tampa Florida police, the Department of Homeland Security and others in finding and apprehending those who allegedly participated in this horrific threat to young people.”
The two-year investigation Operation Stolen Innocence began in November 2018 when TPD investigators saw images of a child were being posted on a website that advertises sex for money. Investigators with TPD’s Special Victims Unit set up an operation to rescue the child to ensure her safety said TPD Chief Lawrence Revell said in a written statement.
The investigation uncovered an enormous amount of electronic evidence that required months to evaluate. The electronic evidence helped investigators further develop the case and determine how many suspects were involved and to what extent, he said.
As the result of the probe, 72 suspects were charged with misdemeanors and notices to appear, 106 suspects were charged with felonies and 18 face federal charges.
“It is difficult to comprehend the depravity of these criminals who prey on the most innocent in our society, “said Kevin Sibley, Homeland Security Investigations Tampa Acting Special Agent in Charge.
According to Sibley an estimated 199,000 child trafficking incidents occur in the US annually. Of those, Florida ranks among the top five states reporting these cases.
Parents can help stem the rise in child trafficking incidents by remaining vigilant and reporting any criminal activity to local police.
Meanwhile, parents should be able to recognize these common signs of potential human trafficking victims including if the person appears to be malnourished; shows signs of physical abuse or injury; avoids eye contact or other social interaction; do not appear to have any official identification personal possessions or are never away from people.
“Of course, the best way to protect children is to prevent them from becoming victims of child predators in the first place,” Bucciarelli said. “We want to help them do that.”
For more information visit the MoVi by iBucci Website.