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Tampa Police Rescue Two Human Trafficking Victims

This information is 2 months old and may no longer be accurate.

Tampa PD Detectives have rescued two local human trafficking victims following an initial report from a victim when she visited the District 1 Office at the end of May 2023.

According to Victim 1, she had met the suspect while still living in Cuba. The suspect promised assistance to enter the United States in exchange for $80,000 in debt, which she had to work as an exotic dancer to pay off. Victim 1 agreed, and in November of 2022, she was flown to Nicaragua by the suspect. Victim 1 traveled through Central America and into Mexico, where she crossed the border into Texas. In December 2022, she was flown to Tampa.

Upon her arrival in Tampa, Victim 1 disclosed to officers that she was only allowed to leave the suspect's residence to go to work. In addition to being an exotic dancer, the suspect also paid for commercial advertisements that offered the victim to participate in sexual acts.

In late February of 2023, Victim 1 was able to flee the suspect's residence.

Following Victim 1's report, Tampa PD detectives in the Human Trafficking Task Force were assigned to the case and through investigative means were able to identify another victim. Similar to Victim 1, the suspect promised the second victim assistance in entering the United States in exchange for a significant amount of debt, including having to work as an exotic dancer. In addition to exploiting both victims, the suspect kept all the money they made.

Following their rescue, both victims have been connected with community organizations and advocates who specialize in assisting those who have been victims of Human Trafficking.

Detectives are currently still working to identify additional victims who have been or are still being exploited by the suspect.

"I am so appreciative that two victims were brave enough to speak out, and allow us to help them," said Chief Lee Bercaw. "Having done extensive research on human trafficking, I know the impact it has on a community, but even more so on the victims. I am proud that we have a dedicated group of Tampa Police detectives who are working alongside our federal law enforcement partners to save more victims and bring the suspects to justice."
Worldwide, human trafficking has become the second most profitable crime. Nationally, Florida ranks as the third highest state for Human Trafficking cases.

If you or someone you know needs help and is a victim of Human Trafficking, you are encouraged to submit an anonymous tip using TIP 411 or by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

The investigation remains open and active as a part of an ongoing federal investigation. The identity of the suspect will not be made available to the public at this time.