Operation Stolen Innocence: 170 people charged in Tallahassee child sex trafficking network

( Tallahassee )

A two-year investigation by the Tallahassee Police Department into the horrific sexual exploitation of a young teenage girl netted a staggering amount of arrests — with more than 170 people charged over recent months.

On Tuesday, TPD Chief Lawrence Revell and state and federal officials announced results of Operation Stolen Innocence, a highly secretive investigation into the commercial sex trafficking of the girl, who was 13 and 14 when the alleged offenses occurred.

The investigation, which police officials declined to even acknowledge for months, was likely the biggest of its kind in Tallahassee history, Revell said.

Some 106 people were charged with felonies, including human trafficking, lewd and lascivious battery on a child under 16 and production and possession of child pornography. Another 72 people were charged with misdemeanors, including solicitation of prostitution.

According to past reporting by the Tallahassee Democrat, the Johns and others swept up in the investigation include a P.E. teacher and a write-in candidate. Others arrested include university and state employees and individuals with criminal records.

Several of the defendants are women, charged with helping to arrange paid “plays” with the girl in exchange for cash.

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

The investigation began in late 2018 after investigators spotted the girl in an online sex-for-pay listing.

TPD’s Special Victims Unit set out to rescue the child, who cooperated in efforts to bring charges against the people who exploited her. Revell praised the police work that yielded the arrests, many of which began in July and ended just days ago.

"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," he said. "I cannot say enough about the work that you all did and how proud I am of each of you.”

Numerous agencies worked with TPD in the investigation: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the State Attorney’s Office and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.

U.S. Attorney Larry Keefe vowed to continue going after child sex traffickers. Nearly 20 of the defendants, including some from out of state, face federal charges.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Victim's existence was 'horrific'

Police would not discuss details that could identify the victim — including whether her mother was involved or charged in the sex trafficking ring.

A number of defendants told investigators during sworn interviews that the girl’s mother wouldn’t allow anyone to have sex with her unless they brought money or drugs, according to police reports. Others described encounters that happened inside a filthy apartment and hotels and motels across town.

The meetings were arranged over text messages, Facebook and other social media and apps, leaving a vast electronic trail of evidence that took investigators months to unravel.

Elizabeth Bascom of TPD, one of the lead investigators, called the girl’s exploitation “horrific.” She the abuse likely began even before her 13th birthday.

“This was a child, 13 turning 14 ... who worked through her birthday as if it did not exist, who worked through Thanksgiving while we sat at tables and enjoyed our families, who worked through Christmas like it wasn’t even there,” she said.

Chief Revell said the girl is “on the road to recovery, and she’s doing well given the situation.” Bascom said she plans to testify in court, though it’s unclear at this point how many of the cases will go to trial.

“She does have things to say,” Bascom said. “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.”

‘Any child can be at risk’

Vollrath-Bueno, a veteran prosecutor of child sex crimes, said human trafficking is a $150 billion global industry, with nearly two-thirds of the profit coming from commercial sexual exploitation.

She said estimates suggest 50,000 people are trafficked each year in the United States alone.

“The exact numbers ... are hard to define because human trafficking like many crimes lives in the dark,” she said. “It is notoriously under-reported.”

Vollrath-Bueno said victims can be adults or children, male or female and exploited for sex or labor. In the U.S., she said, the average age a child enters the sex trade ranges from 12 to 14.

“Children with low visibility in the community, unstable home lives, mental health issues, drug issues, frequent runaways, are most at risk,” she said. “I say ‘most’ because any child can be at risk.”

Revell said all the people charged thus far had contact with the victim at the center of the case. But he and others acknowledged the likelihood of more victims.

“We know that it’s going on here in our town,” he said. “We know that we have to address it. We’re committed to changing this, to have more and more positive impacts and rescue more and more children.”

Investigators urged victims and people who are aware of victims to speak out. People can report information to law enforcement or the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

For a complete list of those charged, click here.

Roll call of the arrested

Those facing felony charges connected to the largest TPD human trafficking operation in city history.

  1. Michael Tyrone Harris, 51, Havana

  2. Jarred A. Jenkins, 26, Department of Corrections

  3. Travis Alexander Thomas, 37, Midway

  4. Jamichael Reshard Cox, 30, Department of Corrections

  5. Anthony Rivers, 25, Tallahassee

  6. Momodou Lamin Janneh, 26, Tallahassee

  7. Stephen Lee Pichard, 53, Tallahassee

  8. Joshua Ricardo Curry, Tallahassee

  9. Briahnna Venus Banks, 24, Tallahassee

  10. Helen Kimberly Anderson, 27, Tallahassee

  11. O’bryan K Finley, 36, Tallahassee

  12. Erik Oben Rivers, 47, Tallahassee

  13. Shuntae Lamar Kirksey, 25, Tallahassee

  14. Manor Joseph III, 57, Tallahassee

  15. Daryl Lamar Howard Jr., 34, Tallahassee

  16. Christopher L. Williams Jr., 24, Tallahassee

  17. Tony Dickey, 36, Tallahassee

  18. Jordan Jenkins, 27, Tallahassee

  19. Trayveontaye Jamarquez Cheesmon, 21, Chattahoochee

  20. Joseph Austin, Jr., 45, Tallahassee

  21. Tinara Lashay Spears, 22, Tallahassee

  22. Essence Katana Blue, 24, Tallahassee

  23. Maricio Lavant Scott, 30, Tallahassee

  24. Alfred Bernard Marktorion Simmons, Jr., 22, Tallahassee

  25. Adavion D Barnes, 23, Tallahassee

  26. Norphles Washington, 28, Tallahassee

  27. Malcolm Jerome Carter, 29, Tallahassee

  28. Phillip Wesley Watkins, 42, Tallahassee

  29. Samuel Bryant, 39, Tallahassee

  30. Michael DeWayne Wooten, 42, Tallahassee

  31. Jontae Jamel Jackson, 39, Tallahassee

  32. William Glenn Ellis, Jr., 58, Quincy

  33. Jermaine Miller, 29, Tallahassee

  34. Brian Omar Johnson, 49, Tallahassee

  35. Jacob Dewitt Greene, 32, Tallahassee

  36. Eric Sheldon Daniel, 30, Tallahassee

  37. Michael Tybireous Jarcord, 51, Tallahassee

  38. Terrence Faulk, 38, Tallahassee

  39. Danny Earl Richards, 50, Telogia, Fla.

  40. Brian Gerald Winsett, 50, Tallahassee

  41. Dustin Kyle Claypool, 23, Tallahassee

  42. Tokusei J. Pfeiffer, 44, Tallahassee

  43. Durell Thomas, 34, Tallahassee

  44. Houston Wagner IV, 23, Tallahassee

  45. Martravius Terrell Gilbert, 21, Tallahassee

  46. John Fitzgerald Coates, 56, Tallahassee

  47. Ontario D. Lawrence, 45, Tallahassee

  48. Mark L. Barineau, 58, Tallahassee

  49. Michael O’Hara Jones II, 34, Tallahassee

  50. Jamil Reymundo Gardner, 31, Tallahassee

  51. Henrarles Tankachap Ekokobe, 26, Tallahassee

  52. Max Oliver Serge Saint Albin, 26, Unknown

  53. Korenna N. Williams, 23, Tallahassee

  54. Jamar D. Nicholson, 23, Tallahassee

  55. Kenneth L. Monroe, 29, Tallahassee

  56. Anthony Hill, Jr., 31, Tallahassee

  57. Synara Bouie 37, Quincy

  58. Anthony B. Logan, 24, Tallahassee

  59. Latonya Wilburn, 46, Tallahassee

  60. David Zachariah Brown, Jr., 23, Tallahassee

  61. George Williams, 43, Perry

  62. Brittany K. Brown, 30, Tallahassee

  63. Robert L. Wiggins, Jr., 33, Tallahassee

  64. Sherley Duvain, 21, Tallahassee

  65. Brandon Marteze Richardson, 30, Tallahassee

  66. Steven Garrett, 30, Tallahassee

  67. Bacari Phillips, 29, Tallahassee

  68. Jasmine Fields, 20, Tallahassee

  69. Dwayne Ladarris Blake, 31, Tallahassee

  70. Robert Lee Williams, Jr., 24, Monticello

  71. Damion Javier Boone, 25, Tallahassee

  72. Marq-Twoine D. Lindsey, 26, Tallahassee

  73. Tavaris Devon Paul, 25, Quincy

  74. Rasheed Amin Mercer, 38, Tallahassee

  75. Damonta Tyrell Morris, 26, Tallahassee

  76. Marco W. Gaines, 29, Quincy

  77. DeAntwon Leshawn Ray, 29, Quincy

  78. Kendrick Lorenzo Hayes, 29, Tallahassee

  79. Victor Molina, 22, Quincy

  80. Garland Darnell Bullock, 31, Tallahassee

  81. Maurice D. Towels, 38, Tallahassee

  82. Dwight C. Cross, Jr., 28, Tallahassee

  83. Alpha O. Gaines, Jr., 27, Tallahassee

  84. Bahkarie Floyd Sweeting, 23, Tallahassee

  85. Kelly Devarius Payne, 32, Tallahassee

  86. Jacorbin Tharon Simmons, 30, Tallahassee

  87. Brandon Marshawn Morris, 24, Tallahassee

  88. Ali F Barber, Jr., 19, Tallahassee

  89. Ellis Ibiso Jack, 22, Tallahassee

  90. Charrez Constantion, Jr., 25, Quincy

  91. Dontavious Perkins, 23, Cario, Ga.

  92. Dontavious Phillips, 29, Midway

  93. Frederick Lamar Jones, 31, Havana

  94. Apollo S. Kenon, Jr., 25, Gretna

  95. Gerardo Lopez De Nava Cazares, 24, Monticello

  96. Tevaris James Hogan, Sr., 30, Tallahassee

  97. Quentiz Allen Barnes, 31, Tallahassee

  98. Denzel Javon Washington, 23, Tallahassee

  99. Jerry Lee Moore, Jr., 27, Tallahassee

  100. Kurtis Antonio Morris, 40, Tallahassee

  101. Jirard Quinn Kincherlow, 38, Montgomery, Ala.

  102. Eldred Keith Jennings, 39, Lamont, Fla.

  103. Keith Antonia Johnson, 50, Tallahassee

  104. Detroy Lamont Garrett, 42, Tallahassee

  105. Destin Reche Banks, 32, Tallahassee

  106. Daniel Alexander Mitchell, 32, Tallahassee