A drug raid in New Port Richey ended up leading to the discovery of even more serious crimes.
It’s another sad example of how drugs and prostitution are sometimes part of Tampa Bay’s human trafficking problem.
The raid of a house on Polk Street in New Port Richey happened last August.
At the time, deputies charged Clent Ruffin for dealing heroin. But now, with help from a tip, the 59-year-old is also accused of human trafficking.
Investigators said Ruffin recruited drug addicted women and kept them inside the home, forcing them into prostitution.
“He was feeding their addiction. Those drugs were really the chains that were holding them there,” Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
According to the arrest report, Ruffin drove the women to meet customers and “the money was used to satisfy never-ending debts owed to the defendant.”
Jamie Bratti was one of Ruffin’s neighbors. He once gave her a ride to a doctor’s appointment.
“I was totally shocked. Very hard to imagine. We never had any inclination about what was going on over there,” she said.
But other neighbors tell me, they knew there were drugs there. And they saw a flood of prostitutes going in and out.
No word from the sheriff’s office on how many women were kept inside the home. But they were all adults.
“This is somebody's daughter, this is somebody’s sister that was being held against their will because of the addiction. And now they won’t have to go back to this,” Nocco said.
The house on Polk Street is now vacant, with an eviction notice on the door. And another notice condemning the place.