Florida

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National Human Trafficking Hotline statistics for Florida
National Human Trafficking Hotline statistics for Florida

Notable cases

The Finders (1987)

On February 5, 1987, an inquiry was made from the Tallahassee Police Department to identify two, well-dressed males which had been apprehended along with six children they had been keeping in a van. The adults were arrested for child abuse and identified as Michael Houlihan and Douglas Ammerman, both were both from Washington, D.C.

The children were covered with insect bites, were very dirty, most of the children were not wearing underwear and all of the children had not been bathed in many days.

It would also be found that two of these children were sexually abused.[1] The request thus made its way to the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, and further inquiries were made as well as a release to the Washington Post.

Further research: Official investigation into 'Finders', specifically 2 suspicious adults and 6 abused children & (archive.is) of text-searchable manuscript taken from a forum

The Washington Post uncovered records from the U.S. District Court which included unusual testimony from a confidential police source. The source claimed to have been recruited by "a cult" in Washington D.C. called the Finders for "financial reward and sexual gratification" and to "explore satanism". This source would later reveal that the children would also be used in this cults rituals.[2]

What little is known about the rituals is that they involved animal sacrifice and bloodletting as well as physical, psychological and sexual abuse of children. A critical function within the Finders' rituals would be "brainwashing". Authorities would also find many computers in two Finders compounds located in Tallahassee, Florida and Glover Park in Washington D.C. It was believed that the cult would then subsequently sell the images of the abuse on the child pornography market.[3]

More information on The Finders' activities after 1987 can be found on their page.

Rep. Mark Foley underage boy sex scandal (2006)

Mark Foley.jpg

Mark Foley is a former member of the United States House of Representatives. He served from 1995 until 2006, representing the 16th District of Florida as a member of the Republican Party, before resigning due to scandal. Foley resigned from Congress on September 29, 2006 acting on a request by the Republican leadership after allegations surfaced that he had sent suggestive emails and sexually explicit instant messages to teenage boys who had formerly served and were at that time serving as Congressional pages.[4]

Mark Foley alleged that he was abused by a priest in his youth in connection with Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Lake Worth, Florida.[5]

More on Mark Foley can be found on his page.

Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein arrested for soliciting underage girl for prostitution (2008)

Jeffrey Epstein at Harvard University.jpg

An American billionaire financier and sex offender. He worked at Bear Stearns early in his career and then formed his own firm, J. Epstein & Co. In 2008, Epstein was convicted of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution, for which he served 13 months in a county jail and house arrest. Epstein had also been accused of financial crimes and was known for having a mysterious persona.[6][7]

The source of Epstein's wealth is also a topic of debate. It is possible that much of it came from defrauding investors in the Towers Financial Corporation, which was seemingly a Ponzi scheme.[8]

Jeffrey Epstein is a level 3 registered sex offender and alleged child trafficker. He has pled guilty to criminal charges for solicitation of prostitution from a minor in Palm Beach, Florida. Although he was sued numerous times by victims in civil trials, Epstein has never faced criminal charges for engaging in and soliciting sex with minors on his personal aircraft (aka "Lolita Express") or his Caribbean island, Little St James, colloquially known as "Orgy Island." Victims have argued that the island is a hub for housing minors who are bought from trafficking rings and abused by its elite visitors.[9]

He maintains very close connections with some of the most elite men and women in the world, some of which include Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey, Chris Tucker, Robert Maxwell, Prince Andrew, and the late Michael Jackson. [10] Bill Clinton in particular has flown on Epstein's private aircraft, the "Lolita Express" 26 times.

More information on Jeffrey Epstein, his activities and connections can be found on his page.

Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys murders (1900-2011)

Arthur-G-Dozier-School-for-Boys.jpg

The now-abandoned Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida was operated by the state government from 1900 all the way until 2011. At its peak in the 1960s, 500 boys were housed at the Dozier school, most of them for minor offenses such as petty theft, truancy or running away from home. In 1968, when corporal punishment was outlawed at state-run institutions, then-Governor Claude Kirk visited and found the institution in disrepair with leaky ceilings, holes in walls, cramped sleeping quarters, no heating for the winters and buckets used as toilets.[11](archive.is)

It also had a reputation for children mysteriously dying and being swiftly cremated while under state care. Many past students claim that they were beaten with a three-foot-long belt until they passed out, while others swear that there was a 'rape room' where some students were sexually abused. Nobody was her held accountable for these crimes, however.[12](archive.is)

Recent exhumations of the Dozier School grounds have revealed that in addition to the 31 official burials between 1900 and 2011, researchers also found the remains of 24 additional people between September and December 2013. Some of the bodies were found under roads or overgrown trees, well away from the white, metal crosses marking the 31 officially recorded graves.[13](archive.is)

Head of Florida Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested on child porn charges (2011)

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Anthony Mangione of Parkland, Florida, was charged in a three-count indictment unsealed Wednesday with transportation of child pornography, receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography. Between March 2010 and September 2010, Mangione allegedly transported, received and stored visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Mangione was arrested in September of 2011 by FBI agents appeared in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida.[14](archived.is)

International sex trafficking study on Miami, Florida (2014)

A map showing the abundance of  massage parlors offering sex services in South Florida
A map showing the abundance of massage parlors offering sex services in South Florida

For about three years, researchers of the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center interviewed law enforcement officers, pimps and prostitutes and analyze trends in the size and structure of underground commercial sex economies. They surveyed eight cities, including Miami, Florida, and found that large numbers of prostitutes were being brought in from countries all over the world including Russia, China, Mexico and more.[15](archive.is)

Many of these victims were then trafficked throughout the United States. In one case a victim was abducted from a strip club in Orlando and forced her to travel to Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Hawaii.[16](archive.is)

In 2014 the Justice Policy Center published a report on these findings. For instance, the most popular places to pay for sex in South Florida are erotic massage parlors which are predominantly run by the Chinese. Other popular hubs for sex trafficking include local night clubs and online escort services.[17](archive.is)

Miami police officers revealed that these trends change, however. "Five years ago, we used to have mostly minors working the tracks, which really doesn't happen as much anymore...we'll start hitting it really hard, and then they'll change the way they're doing things."[18](archive.is)

A more example of this involved Club Madonna in Miami Beach who had a 13-year-old girl strip at the club. She also said that she was forced to have sex in a house in Little Haiti.[19](archive.is)

Walt Disney World/Universal Studios theme park child porn ring (2014)

Between 2006 and 2014 at least 35 Disney employees arrested and accused of sex crimes involving children, trying to meet a minor for sex, or for possession of child pornography. Five Universal Studios employees and two employees from SeaWorld were also arrested. At least 32 of the 35 Disney employees were convicted. Two cases, which were for possession of child pornography, occurred on Disney property.[20](archive.is)

In July of 2014 Robert Kingsolver became the most recent Disney employee arrested for such charges. Kingsolver believed he was going to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex at a house but was caught in a sting set up by detectives from the Lake County, Florida, Sheriff's Office. Kingsolver told CNN he was just trying to protect the girl, and planned to call authorities when he showed up at the house.[21](archive.is)

Other Disney employees caught up in the police stings and child porn cases include security guards, a costumer, a VIP tour guide in training, a gift shop employee and maintenance workers.[22](archive.is)

Operation L&P busts 101 in prostitution and child sex sting (2015)

Starting in March 18, 2015 Lake and Polk county sheriff's offices conducted an undercover cybercrime prostitution and child-sex sting which ended in the arrest of 101 individuals. 22 of the individuals were caught trying to meet with undercover officers posing as girls between the ages of 10 and 14. Just a year prior in 2014 Lake deputies rescued a teenager who had had been kidnapped and forced to have sex by a suspect who then tried to use her as a prostitute.[23](archive.is)

One of the individuals found soliciting for sex with minors was Ahmad Saleem, a former regional community organizer for the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).[24](archive.is)

Project Safe Childhood (2017)

Indiana Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Engaging in a Child Exploitation Enterprise [25] - "...Michael Fluckiger, 46, of Portland, Indiana, was sentenced to 240 months in prison for engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, along with lifetime supervised release. ... Fluckiger acted as the co-administrator of a highly-sophisticated global enterprise dedicated to the sexual exploitation of children, organized via a members-only website that operated on the Tor anonymity network, through which he and more than 150,000 other members authored and viewed tens of thousands of postings relating to sexual abuse of children as young as infants and toddlers. ... In addition, Fluckiger admitted that website members employed advanced technological means in order to undermine law enforcement’s attempts to identify them, including the use of a hidden service on the Tor anonymity network and elaborate file encryption. ...convicted co-defendant and lead administrator of the site, Steven W. Chase, 57, of Naples, Florida, of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise and related charges. ...Co-defendant and global moderator of the site, David Lynn Browning, 47, of Wooton, Kentucky ... As a result of the ongoing investigation, at least 48 alleged hands-on abusers have been prosecuted and 49 American children who were subjected to sexual abuse have been successfully identified or rescued. ...investigated the case with assistance from the FBI’s Charlotte, Tampa, and Boston, Field Offices. ...launched in May 2006..."

Operation Resilient arrests 15 in child sex sting (2017)

Gainesville-15.JPG

The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force began in a sting in March 2017 to catch online predators soliciting children for sex. All were caught as they attempted to meet up with what they believed to be children, but found were undercover investigators. 46 law enforcement agents from seven different agencies took part in the operation.[26](archive.is)


Associated locations

See also