Attorney General Pam Bondi News Release
|October 25, 2016
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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Two More Arrested in Human Trafficking Ring
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution today announced two more arrests in connection to an ongoing investigation and prosecution of a human trafficking network operating from South to Central Florida. Joaquin Perez-Urbano, 41, and Paula Rojas-Zarate, 33, both from Fort Myers, face charges for conspiracy to commit human trafficking and human trafficking. The human trafficking ring operated in Collier, Lee, Hendry, Miami-Dade and Polk Counties.
“This organization targeted vulnerable women desperate to find a better life and reunite with loved ones, forcing victims to perform hundreds of sex acts a week,” said Attorney General Bondi. “We will not tolerate human trafficking in Florida, and my Office of Statewide Prosecution continues to work tirelessly to prosecute traffickers and protect the victims of this atrocious crime.”
“I thank Attorney General Pam Bondi for her strong commitment to combatting human trafficking throughout Florida and helping trafficking victims and I applaud her continuing efforts to bring traffickers to justice,” said Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk.
The multiagency investigation began in 2013 after authorities discovered a human trafficking victim during a traffic stop. The investigation revealed multiple victims illegally smuggled into the United States with the promise of legal jobs and reuniting with family. The criminal organization then forced the women to work as commercial sex slaves and perform sex acts on 25 to 45 men a day, six days a week. Victims ranged in age from 25 to 35. The victims earned between $190,000 and $320,000 a year for their captors while they received a pittance. The suspects forced the victims to reimburse them for food and rent and subjected the victims to substandard and restricted living conditions.
Authorities believe there are additional victims. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Fort Myers Regional Operations Center at (239) 278-7170.
In addition to Attorney General Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, FDLE’s Fort Myers Regional Operations Center, Sheriff Kevin Rambosk and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office for the 20th Judicial Circuit, the Southwest Florida Regional Human Trafficking Coalition and Abuse Counseling Treatment, assisted in the investigation. Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute this case.