Two teenage boys are safe from human traffickers after a traffic stop and arrest yesterday afternoon in Santa Rosa County. The boys, ages 17 and 14, are citizens of Guatemala who were recently smuggled into the country from Mexico into Texas.
The investigation began when a Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Deputy stopped a vehicle for a moving violation on I-10 and noted indicators of possible human trafficking. The Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office contacted FDLE for assistance with the investigation.
“A deputy’s keen eye and immediate multiagency cooperation were instrumental in rescuing two children,” said Chris Williams, Chief of Investigations for FDLE Pensacola Regional Operations Center. “I’m proud of the deputies and agents who teamed to bring two human traffickers to justice.”
Investigators believe the boys were trafficked into the United States for forced labor. According to the victims, their families each paid more than $1,000 to be smuggled into America. Each teen was told they had to work to pay off additional travel debt. Agents believe the men were taking the boys to different cities in Central and South Florida.
Agents arrested Frank Moreno, 39, Odessa, Texas, and Jackson Perez-Godinez, 21, Guatemala. Each are charged with two counts of human trafficking and two counts of human smuggling.
Moreno and Perez-Godinez were booked into the Santa Rosa County Jail on no bond, pending first appearance. This case will be prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney, 1st Judicial Circuit.
For information on how you can help stop human trafficking, visit http://www.youcanstopht.com.