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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
05/13/2013

HSI Tampa helps local and state law enforcement agencies dismantle human trafficking ring

HSI Tampa helps local and state law enforcement agencies dismantle human trafficking ring
HSI Tampa helps local and state law enforcement agencies dismantle human trafficking ring

Law enforcement officers from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies – as part of the Clearwater Area Human Trafficking Task Force – dismantled a Tampa Bay human trafficking ring where at least 16 women were allegedly prostituted against their will.

Law enforcement officers arrested Peter D. Kitt, 41, and Shawn D. Franklin, 42, Friday morning for their roles in the ring. Holly Cannarelli, 55, was arrested Sunday. All the defendants face state charges of racketeering and participating in a racketeering conspiracy. The defendants are being held on $1 million bond.

Special agents and officers touted the use of a wiretap to monitor the defendants' phones as the key to dismantling this human trafficking ring. Those phone calls enabled law enforcement to piece together the daily activities of the alleged traffickers – where they resided, where they traveled and how they transported their victims.

"Collaboration is essential in these investigations," said Homeland Security Investigations Tampa Deputy Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden. "Whenever we're able to lend a hand to our state and local partners, we're happy to do so."

On Friday afternoon, Clearwater Police Chief Anthony Holloway and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi hosted a news conference that included representatives from the participating law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) HSI.

"These arrests are the first step in bringing justice and peace to the victims of this alleged sex trafficking ring," said Bondi at the news conference. "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."

Report suspected instances of human trafficking to HSI's tip line at 866-DHS-2ICE.