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FL Strike Team Begins Rescuing Sex Trafficking Victims Exploited by Migrant Smugglers

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A newly launched human trafficking strike team in Florida has rescued 10 victims and arrested several perpetrators. The state says the team was created to combat criminal groups "exploiting Biden's open border to bring trafficking victims" into the U.S.

The Florida Human Trafficking Strike Team is a multi-agency operation that was launched to dismantle a massive trafficking ring operating in multiple locations throughout the state after authorities learned of a trafficker who recruited women from Colombia and Venezuela and forced them into sex work, according to Attorney General Ashley Moody's office. 

"Until Biden does his job and closes the border, we must continue to develop new methods to deal with international crime rings that exploit Biden's reckless agenda to perpetuate crime in Florida," Moody said.

Moody says the state is being proactive in enforcing the law as it "falls on the shoulders of these folks standing behind me to make sure that we are rescuing those that are being taken advantage of."

The strike force of several law enforcement agencies and social agencies is the latest investment the state is making to fight the trafficking epidemic. 

"Human trafficking is an atrocious crime, enslaving millions across the globe," Moody said.

So far, Gov. Ron DeSantis approved nearly $5 million to expand access to emergency beds for human trafficking survivors, WCJB-TV reports. And starting July 1, the state will launch its human trafficking hotline, 855-FLA-SAFE. 

The launch of the strike team comes at the heels of a collaborative effort to rescue 10 women held captive in the Tampa Bay region by an alleged sex trafficking ringleader identified by law enforcement as Lina Payne. 

Investigators accuse Payne of using businesses as a front to exploit women recruited from Colombia and Venezuela.

"What we found was a fully functional, highly organized international human trafficking operation based in Hillsborough and Manatee counties," said FDLE Special Agent in Charge Mark Brutnell. 

Payne stands accused of making frequent trips to these countries and promising decent work to the victims, but once they came to the U.S. she allegedly forced them to commit sex work, live inside barber shops and massage parlors, and took their identification documents. 

She reportedly demanded they pay $40,000 to $50,000 for being brought to the U.S. 

Payne's boyfriend, Sebastian Jurado, and her son, Andres Payne, were also allegedly involved in trafficking the victims, Intercessors for America reports. 

Payne, Jurado, and her son have been arrested, but another alleged trafficker is still at large. 

"Biden's border crisis is emboldening transnational criminal organizations, and as a result, we are seeing horrific human trafficking cases right here in Florida. The disturbing facts of this case highlight the need for our new statewide Strike Team, and demonstrate how this expert team of investigators, prosecutors, analysts, and victims' advocates can help coordinate efforts to take down trafficking operations and rescue victims," Moody explained. 

The strike team was also able to identify 117 other victims involved in Payne's trafficking operation over the years. 

"We're talking about human lives. If someone was drowning, we'd go out and save them. These are people who are lost out at sea, in hell, living in captivity. We are going to rescue them," said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco.

"By working together, we have a better chance at stopping bad actors, like the suspects in today's case, from abusing and taking advantage of victims who, in some cases, are just trying to survive," Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass said. 

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About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.