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 case at hand and possible avenues for investigation (understanding the scope.)
Evaluating evidence, developing organization, and a flexible investigative strategy with the idea of prosecution without victim participation.
Implementing techniques to obtain confessions with electronic evidence and inferred acts.