JACKSONVILLE, Fla – At least 13 people, including a suspected pimp, were arrested following a joint crackdown on human trafficking by the FBI and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
According to police reports, the arrests were made at various locations, including hotels around Jacksonville. In some cases, police said undercover detectives would contact a suspect through an internet escort advertisement.
“Law enforcement officials monitor this sort of thing all the time. They’re looking at the same ads that the johns are looking at. They’re looking at the same behavior that the pimps have, so in order to catch a criminal, you have to think like a criminal," said News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson.
Trevor Bentley, 27, was arrested in the crackdown and charged with living off the earnings of a prostitute.
Brittany Miller, 30, Dajah Moe, 20, and Taylor Rogers, 29, were also arrested in the human trafficking operation at the Hometown Suites on Mustang Road. All three women face prostitution charges.
Erinn Cuff, 29, was arrested at a motel on Lane Avenue South. She was charged with prostitution.
Eliana Varnadore, 19, was arrested at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront on Coastline Drive. She was charged with prostitution.
Arrests in the crackdown were also made at the Travel Inn on Arlington Road, a building on Carmichael Road, a hotel on Airport Road, the Hawthorne Suites on Baymeadows Road and the Scottish Inns on Philips Highway.
In an unrelated case, a man on Friday pleaded guilty to sex trafficking charges after investigators said he befriended women, offered the board and forced them to enter prostitution.
According to the Federal Human Trafficking Report, Florida ranks third in the nation for the number of new trafficking case, fourth in the nation for active criminal cases and fourth in the nation for the number of defendants convicted.
Jefferson called sex trafficking an epidemic.
"There’s no long-term way to get rid of it. It's an ongoing thing. It's constant," Jefferson said. "The only thing you can hope to do is contain (it). You’re never going to get rid of it.”
According to Shared Hope International, traffickers often exhibit the following behaviors:
- Jealous, controlling and violent
- Significantly older than female companions
- Promise things that seem too good to be true
- Encourage victims to engage in illegal activities to achieve their goals and dreams
- Buys expensive gifts or owns expensive items
- Is vague about his/her profession
- Pushy or demanding about sex
- Encourages inappropriate sexual behavior
- Makes the victim feel responsible for his/her financial stability. Very open about financial matters.
Warning signs that someone is being trafficked include:
- Signs of physical abuse such as burn marks, bruises or cuts
- Unexplained absences from class
- Less appropriately dressed than before
- Sexualized behavior
- Overly tired in class
- Withdrawn, depressed, distracted or checked out
- Brags about making or having lots of money
- Displays expensive clothes, accessories or shoes
- New tattoo (tattoos are often used by pimps as a way to brand victims. Tattoos of a name, symbol of money or barcode could indicate trafficking)
- Older boyfriend or new friends with a different lifestyle
- Talks about wild parties or invites other students to attend parties
- Shows signs of gang affiliation? (ie: a preference for specific colors, notebook doodles of gang symbols, etc.)
The National Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached at any time by calling 1 (888) 373-7888.