Human trafficking ring busted in Pinellas County; 2 men arrested

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a major bust in a local human trafficking ring and said it's a form of modern slavery happening right here in our community.

"It is one of the most horrendous crimes you can imagine," Bondi said.

During a news conference on Friday, Bondi said the Clearwater/Tampa Bay Area Task Force on Human Trafficking arrested Peter Kitt and Shawn Franklin.

The duo is accused of recruiting and forcing at least 16 women into drug use and prostitution.

Investigators said the pair also threatened the women with physical violence.

"They lead lives with violence and fear. They are trapped in the hands of their perpetrators who care nothing for them, except to exploit them for the defendant's own finical gain," Bondi said.

According to investigators, the women were recruited at strip clubs, then trained at a brothel inside a Pinellas County home.

Police said eventually the were sent to hotels all around Tampa Bay where they would go to work.

"We have information where we know one of the young ladies actually did go to the hospital because he beat her so badly," said Clearwater Police Chief Anthony Hollway.

So far, three of the women have been rescued.

Agents are asking the other 13 victims to come forward, to help build a case against the men.

Bondi described the human trafficking ring as a modern day form of slavery.

Erik Waxler is gathering more information on this developing story.  Watch for a full report on ABC Action News from 5 – 6:30 p.m.

 

 

 

Erik Waxler is gathering more information on this developing story.  Watch for a full report on ABC Action News from 5 – 6:30 p.m.

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