Monday, August 16, 2010

FBI busts human trafficking ring in Florida

A 15-year-old Jacksonville runaway is safe and getting therapy after the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says she spent a month as a sex slave.

Ian Sean Gordan and Melvin Eugene Friedman have been indicted on federal felony counts of selling the 15-year-old girl to customers between February 24 and March 31.

Three other men, Oris Alexander English, Alfredo Martinez Riquene and Phillip Anthony Aiken have been arrested for buying the victim from Gordan and Friedman.

A sixth man, Antonio Ford, is charged with having knowledge of the child exploitation and failing to report the felonies to authorities.

"Such trafficking in the nature of this operation was tanamount to slavery," Sheriff John Rutherford said at a Monday afternoon news conference announcing the indictments. "The victim was forced to engage in acts of prostitution in exchange for money, shelter and drugs."

Police would not elaborate on how the girl became involved with the suspects, but say she was held against her will until she was able to escape and call her mother.

Officials from the FBI believe the girl was held in several different locations around Jacksonville during her month in captivity and say it's possible more arrests are made in connection with this case.

"We had a case some time ago involving juveniles that were trafficked down here from Virginia," Mike Williams with the Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Unit said. "But this is the first local case that we've put together that involves a local citizen. And it's important to point out that human trafficking is not just an international or national problem. It's a local problem. And that's why we're so committed to rooting it out."

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