Tampa Bay area human trafficking and prostitution ring busted
State and local law enforcement officials announced today they have broken up a human trafficking and prostitution ring that operated throughout the Tampa Bay area.
The two men accused of running the operation – Peter Kitt, 41, and Shawn Franklin, 42 – were arrested today. Each was charged with one count of racketeering and one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering.
The suspects are accused of forcing 16 women into prostitution by sexually assaulting them, beating them and threatening to kill them, law enforcement officials said at a press conference today.
The women are between 21 and 25 and from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds. That allowed Kitt to provide particular types of women for customers who requested them, law enforcement officials said.
After the women were forced into submission at a Pinellas County brothel they were sent out to have sex with men throughout the Tampa Bay area in private homes and at hotels.
Kitt received all the proceeds, said Clearwater Police Chief Anthony Holloway.
Three of the sixteen women have been rescued. Law enforcement officials hope the others come forward.
The investigation was conducted by the Clearwater/Tampa Bay Area Task Force on Human Trafficking Agencies, which includes the Clearwater Police Department, the Florida Office of Statewide Prosecutor, the federal Department of Homeland Security, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Largo Police Department, Pinellas Park Police Department and the St. Petersburg Police Department.