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July 8, 2020Tampa, FL, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking, Child Exploitation

Man sentenced to more than 11 years for sex trafficking of minors

TAMPA – A Tampa man was sentenced today to 11 years and three months in federal prison for sex trafficking of minors and was ordered to forfeit a Glock 19 9mm handgun and cellular phone, both of which were used during the commission of the offenses. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

"Two young girls were saved from a life of human trafficking with this investigation," said HSI Tampa Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Cochran. "HSI agents will continue to uncover, dismantle and disrupt human trafficking, around the globe, and right here in our own communities."

According to court documents, in May 2019, Luis Berrios-Trinidad, 30, of Tampa, began communicating with undercover law enforcement agents regarding the commercial sex trafficking of underage females. Berrios-Trinidad represented that he had access to girls ranging in age from 14 to 17 years old, and that the price per girl was between $160-180 an hour.

On June 6, 2019, Berrios-Trinidad arranged to bring two underage females to a hotel for a "sex party" with adult men. On that evening, he arrived with two girls, ages 14 and 17. Once inside the hotel room, Berrios-Trinidad was arrested, and the victims were rescued.

The case was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Middle District Florida Assistant United States Attorney Candace Garcia Rich. Berrios-Trinidad had pleaded guilty January 30, 2020.

This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 25,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child exploitation material, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2019, more than 3,500 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

HSI is a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.