Pinellas authorities: human trafficking ring busted - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Pinellas authorities: human trafficking ring busted

Posted: Updated:
PINELLAS COUNTY, FL -

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says Pinellas County authorities have broken up a human trafficking ring where young women were forced into prostitution.

"It is modern day slavery and we have got to change the focus on how we think about prostitution and that's what this case is about," Bondi said. "These women are victims and if you're out there and you've been involved in this case, you know who you are. Please come forward. Law Enforcement is here to protect you and to help you."

Pinellas County authorities arrested 41-year-old Peter Kitt and 42-year-old Shawn Franklin after an investigation into illegal activity that began in June of 2012.

Clearwater Police Chief Anthony Holloway said the men would recruit young women at local strip clubs. They would then get them hooked on drugs, and beat them in order to force them into prostitution.

Holloway said the young women were also frequently sexually assaulted by the suspects. He added they are treating the women involved in the case as victims.

"We look at the whole picture now, instead of just focusing on, you're a prostitute," he said. "We look at, why are you prostituting? And that's again, when with all of the agencies in the area, we start training officers on these questions to ask these women when we take them into custody."

Police say the suspects face a variety of charges related to the investigation. They are held on $1 million bond each.

"Florida is a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking, and any individuals engaged in this abhorrent crime will be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Bondi said.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Pinellas homeowner ends up the loser after local government mistake on property taxes

    Pinellas homeowner ends up the loser after local government mistake on property taxes

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:59 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:59:58 GMT
    This Preservation land is at heart of homeowner tax dispute in PinellasThis Preservation land is at heart of homeowner tax dispute in Pinellas
    Melanie and Jeffrey Cornwell should have been getting a tax break for years on part of the homestead property in Dunedin they call their "little piece of Heaven." But due to a mistake at the Pinellas Property Appraiser's Office, they won't see any rebates for previous taxes, just a break on future tax bills.
    Melanie and Jeffrey Cornwell should have been getting a tax break for years on part of the homestead property in Dunedin they call their "little piece of Heaven." But due to a mistake at the Pinellas Property Appraiser's Office, they won't see any rebates for previous taxes, just a break on future tax bills.
  • RECALL: Fruit at Trader Joe's & Costco

    RECALL: Fruit at Trader Joe's & Costco

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:45 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:45:14 GMT
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.
  • How thieves clone your credit cards

    How thieves clone your credit cards

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:15:02 GMT
    File photoFile photo
    Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account. "A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."
    Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account. "A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."
  • NewsMore>>

  • Stunning twist in Tampa baby throwing trial

    Mother to take stand in Tampa baby throwing trial

    Thursday, July 24 2014 4:15 AM EDT2014-07-24 08:15:39 GMT
    Jasmine Bedwell, the woman who caused a mistrial in the Richard McTear case last year, testifies Wednesday.
    Jasmine Bedwell, the woman who caused a mistrial in the Richard McTear case last year, testifies Wednesday.
  • Lakeland residents not happy with answers about coyotes

    Lakeland residents not happy with answers about coyotes

    Thursday, July 24 2014 4:00 AM EDT2014-07-24 08:00:36 GMT
    About 75 people gathered at Lakeland City Hall Wednesday night and many of them weren’t happy with what they heard about coyotes that have been mutilating and killing cats in Lakeland’s Lake Hollingsworth neighborhood.
    About 75 people gathered at Lakeland City Hall Wednesday night and many of them weren’t happy with what they heard about coyotes that have been mutilating and killing cats in Lakeland’s Lake Hollingsworth neighborhood.
  • Car loses control injuring 3 at Dunedin shopping center

    Car loses control injuring 3 at Dunedin shopping center

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 10:37 PM EDT2014-07-24 02:37:40 GMT
    An out of control car injured three people at a Dunedin shopping center on Wednesday afternoon. The shopping center is located at the intersection of Curlew Road and Bayshore Boulevard.
    An out of control car injured three people at a Dunedin shopping center on Wednesday afternoon. The shopping center is located at the intersection of Curlew Road and Bayshore Boulevard.
Powered by WorldNow

1336 Augusta West Parkway
Augusta, GA 30909

Telephone: 706.722.6664
Email: talkback6@wjbf.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.