In November of 2018, a detective with the Tallahassee Police Department investigated a thirteen-year-old child being advertised online for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Following an undercover operation to rescue the child, digital evidence was reviewed, which led to a nearly two-year investigation into the sexual exploitation of one child by multiple traffickers and buyers. Detectives partnered with state and federal law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate more than five hundred individuals for victimizing this child. The presenters will detail the challenges and successes of evaluating a tremendous volume of digital evidence, strategies in conducting numerous interviews, and making cases with the highest priority being the protection of the child and the integrity of the operation. They will also discuss the challenges of dealing with familial involvement in the exploitation, which resulted in the child’s continued victimization following her rescue. Finally, the presenters will discuss the lessons learned with respect to what worked well, and what didn’t, leading to the prosecutorial phase of the operation which resulted in the arrest and prosecution of more than 180 individuals through the beginning of the COVID pandemic.
Assess the prosecutorial process without a victim and evaluate what had positive and negative impacts.
Implementing changes, strengthening prosecutions, and moving forward in human trafficking investigations without relying on the victim.
Upon completion, participants will have an understanding of multiple avenues of investigation to support prosecution as well as have a framework for organizing large-scale or small investigations with multiple electronic data sources and multiple defendants.