Four people arrested in Florida, including a Pompano woman whose alleged victims included an 11-year-old girl, are looking at the possibility of long stretches behind bars stemming from a string of separate sex and other human trafficking cases recently detailed in local news reports.
Shanteria Barnes is awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges for allegedly running a prostitution ring that involved girls ages 11 to 17, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. Barnes faces up to life in prison and a mandatory 15 years behind bars.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigations found online ads for sex with underage girls that they traced back to Barnes’ home in Pompano. Three girls told investigators that Barnes pressured them to have sex for money while they were living at the home.
Meanwhile, Pasco resident David Quarles was indicted in January on charges that he recruited children and foreign nationals into a prostitution ring. Quarles lured victims in with job offers, Justice Department lawyers say, only to force them to engage in prostitution. According to the DOJ, he posted ads offering the victims for sex and used physical threats to prevent them from leaving.
Quarles also faces a maximum life in prison. Prosecutors say they will seek to force him to forfeit various assets allegedly used to commit the crimes with which he is charged.
Two weeks before Quarles was indicted, police in Milton, Florida, apprehended two men – Frankie Moreno and Jackson Perez-Godines – for human trafficking. The men had two boys with them who police say had recently been smuggled in from Mexico and were set to be sold for forced labor, WTSP reports.
Moreno and Perez-Godines were busted during a routine traffic stop, according to WTSP. The deputy who conducted the stop said he noticed “indicators” of potential trafficking.
“A deputy’s keen eye and immediate multiagency cooperation were instrumental in rescuing two children,” Chris Williams, Chief of Investigations for FDLE Pensacola Regional Operations Center, told WTSP.
The recent reports of trafficking busts show that law enforcement officers across the state are on the lookout for potential trafficking and prosecutors are taking allegations of these kinds of violations very seriously. A conviction can have life-changing consequences, both for the person charged with the crime and his or her family.
If you or a loved one has been charged with—or is even suspected of—a sex crime in Florida, it is imperative that you seek the assistance of a seasoned Tampa sex crimes attorney.
A lawyer can help build the strongest possible defense in the case. The earlier you seek legal advice, the better chance you have to avoid a conviction or reduce the charges.
At Whittel & Melton, we represent clients throughout the Sunshine State who have been charged with a wide variety of offenses, including child pornography, sexual assault, rape, internet solicitation and offenses involving victims who are minors. Our attorneys work tirelessly to fight these charges head-on.
We have offices throughout the state, including in Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Pensacola. Contact us online or call (866) 608-5529 for a free evaluation.
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