Biggest Child Trafficking Bust In Tallahassee Florida History With 170 People Arrested

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In a recent raid, the authorities in Tallahassee, Florida managed to arrest an astonishing number of people involved in a large scale child trafficking case, one of the biggest in the police’s efforts to stop these types of crimes within the United States. This particular bust, which was done in coordination with the federal law enforcement agencies, was called Operation Stolen Innocence, which managed to arrest a whopping 170 people in total.

Police share that the investigation actually started around two years ago after law enforcement officers were tipped off about a 13-year old girl that was being trafficked by her own mother for drugs and money. The young teen had been traded off by her mom to complete strangers for the last two years in order to get her drug fix.

On November 17, 2020, TPD Chief Lawrence Revell, alongside other officials, announced that because of their operation, all the arrests were done over a span of several months, but the authorities remained mum on the subject as to not alert any other additional suspects. Chief Revell also shared that this was probably the ‘largest child trafficking operation in Tallahassee’s history.’


Looking at the charges, the investigation also looked into a number of other cases and found that not all of the suspects were charged with crimes against children. 106 of the suspects were charged with felonies like human trafficking, production and possession of child pornography, and lewd and lascivious battery on a child under 16.

Meanwhile, another 72 people were also charged with misdemeanors. Some of those charges were for solicitation of prostitution, which meant that suspects happened to be arrested during the course of the operation but were not involved in actual child trafficking.

A larger problem is that government statistics of these particular crimes can be misleading at times due to the fact that they sit under a blanket term of “human trafficking.” Human trafficking can range from ‘child trafficking to independent sex workers who get caught in the act with clients.’

For this Tallahassee case, most of the misdemeanor arrests probably involved adult sex workers that were working on their own and servicing their own clients. This is considered entirely different considering that child trafficking, as well as human trafficking, which uses coercion or force. Of the people arrested, 106 of them were charged with child trafficking, while the 72 others were charged with simple “solicitation of prostitution.”

Notably, a number of people that happened to be arrested were actually local prominent figures like a P.E. teacher, a former write-in candidate for local office, a member of a fundraising team for the Florida State University athletics, and one of the former Seminole Boosters, Inc. chairmen. In fact, some of the defendants are actually women who have been charged with helping with paid “plays” with the thirteen-year old girl in exchange for money.

Felony chief for the State’s Attorney’s Office, Lorena Vollrath-Bueno, said “I know it’s hard to believe that something like this happens here in our community. But it does.”

Revell also shared his gratefulness for the authorities involved in the case, “The arrests in this operation are the culmination of the diligent work from our dedicated investigators, who have worked tirelessly to bring justice to the victims in this case. I cannot say enough about the work that you all did and how proud I am of each of you.”

Daily Mail

Authorities involved in the investigation included the local police, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the State Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.

One of the lead police investigators of the case, Elizabeth Bascom, went on to say that the teen’s exploitation was “horrific.” But Revell explains that she is “on the road to recovery, and she’s going well given the situation.”

Bascom also said that she intends to testify in court. “She does have things to say. She was able to say that this has seriously impacted her life, and it is very difficult at times. But she is working to get her life back,” she added.

According to U.S. Attorney Larry Keefe, authorities vow to continue to go after child sex traffickers and other trafficking rings, saying “We in local, state and federal law enforcement are all working together as a team to dismantle their networks and to pursue, prosecute and punish those who are involved. Operation Stolen Innocence is an excellent example of how all levels of law enforcement can put it all together and get it done, to take down a child trafficking network right here in our community.”


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