This is wonderful news. For those of you who may not know, during the Superbowl in Tampa, The FL Coalition Against Human Trafficking and KlaasKids Foundation did outreach for two days and three nights. Our volunteers found evidence of child sex trafficking happening in the area.We found ads on Craigslist from girls that were brought in from as far as Alaska.
Our teams were able to provide potential leads to law enforcement. The next year in Miami. FCAHT, KlaasKids Foundation as well as several other agencies got together and did outreach during the Superbowl in Miami.
Both events were successful and more leads were generated during the second event. I am proud to announce that FCAHT will be conducting this same type of outreach in Orlando this year. I am excited to see what will come from this years Tackle the Traffickers event.
TAMPA – A man convicted of child sex trafficking on Craigslist was sentenced this morning to 20 years in federal prison.
Manuel A. Walcott, 31, and his partner, Pasquale Holt, 25, used the “erotic services” ads on the popular website to offer a 14-year-old girl as a “Super Bowl Special” in 2009 when the football championship game was in Tampa.
Last month, under pressure from Congress and human rights advocates, Craigslist shut down its adult services section. State law enforcement officials wrote Congress in August stating that ads for prostitution, including those trafficking children, were rampant on the site.
Lawmakers and witnesses at a Congressional hearing last month said at least 100,000 minors are exploited by the commercial sex industry in the United States every year.
Walcott was convicted in July of two counts of child sex trafficking and one count of selling or buying a child. Under sentencing guidelines, he faced between 30 years and life in prison.
But Holt, who pleaded guilty, faces about 10 years in prison under the guidelines.
Walcott’s lawyer, Mark O’Brien, argued that Holt was “very clearly the pimp, for lack of a better word.” Given Holt’s likely sentence, O’Brien argued, a 15-year sentence would be reasonable for Walcott.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Shauna Hale disputed that Holt was the leader.
“They were acting together,” she said. “It was Manuel Walcott who was leading Pasquale Holt … down this track.”
“As I recall,” said U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara, “Mr. Holt was intimately involved in this criminal activity. The evidence suggested that he may have been the one who orchestrated it.”
Lazzara said he “will never penalize a defendant because he or she exercised their right, their constitutional right, to a trial by jury.” He said he would vary from the guidelines to avoid a large disparity between sentences for similar defendants in the same crime.
After serving his prison term, Walcott will be on probation for life.
The case was investigated by a law enforcement task force targeting child sex traffickers.
As Tampa was gearing up to host the Super Bowl, undercover agents combed Craigslist looking for juvenile sex trafficking victims. They spotted an ad featuring what appeared to be a girl, and a Tampa police detective placed a call.
The detective was quoted a price of $300 for two girls and told to go to the Marriott hotel at West Shore Boulevard and Cypress Street.
At the hotel, the detective was met by an 18-year-old woman and a girl who claimed to be 17 but was actually 14.
Authorities said the 18-year-old has been a prostitute since she was 16.