Human trafficking ring busted in Pinellas Co.

11:04 PM, May 10, 2013   |    comments
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  • Peter Kitt is one of two men arrested and charged with running a human trafficking and prostitution ring in Pinellas County.
  • Shawn Franklin is one of two men arrested and charged with running a human trafficking and prostitution ring in Pinellas County.
    

Clearwater, Florida - Two men were arrested Friday and charged with running a human trafficking and prostitution ring in Pinellas County.

"They were trapped into the hands of their perpetrators who care nothing for them, except to exploit them for defendants own financial gain," said State Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Peter Kitt is allegedly head of the ring with Shawn Franklin as the enforcement to keep their victims in line. 

During a press conference with Bondi and a team called the Clearwater/Tampa Bay Area Task Force on Human Trafficking, it was announced that both recruited women from local strip clubs.

According to authorities, the men got around 16 women hooked on crack cocaine and oxycontin before forcing them to train sex workers at a Pinellas County brothel.

"He (Kitt) would physically beat them. When I mean physically beat them, they would actually have to be taken to the hospital," said Clearwater Police Chief Anthony Holloway. "Or the next method, he would violently sexually assault these women."

After their training was complete, the women were sent to work out of hotel rooms across the Bay Area.

Kitt and Franklin reportedly pimped the women on websites like backpage.com.

Bondi said a wiretap, now allowed under Florida law during investigations into human trafficking, led to the suspects' arrest.

Victims can contact the Clearwater Area Task Force on Human Trafficking at 727-562-4917 or Florida's hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.

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