Tonight, the conclusion of a 7News exclusive. A behind the scenes look at Fort Lauderdale’s elite human trafficking unit. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has their story.
WSVN — It was a sunny South Florida afternoon. Among the passengers getting off the train in Fort Lauderdale, 19-year-old Kamille Clarke.
Police said she was there to get money from a woman she thought was a prostitute.
Clarke allegedly earned that money, by setting up tricks through the Internet. The prostitute, was really an undercover officer.
Officer: “From day one, started putting together deals to exploit who they believed to be a child for commercial sex trafficking and make money off of that.”
Cash in hand, Clarke caught the next train back home to Miami. But the money train was about to stop.
Another cash pick up, this one at night, did not go so well for Clarke who showed up with her two year old daughter.
Police said she and 21-year-old Devaun Canion thought they were going to get more money. Instead, they got handcuffs and charges of human trafficking.
Canion wanted his mother.
Devaun Canion: “Can I call my momma?”
Carmel Cafiero: “Call your momma?”
Devaun Canion: “Yea.”
Carmel Cafiero: “What kind of man does that? Looking for his momma after he’s out here being arrested for doing this?”
Both are being held without bond.
Because prostitutes on the street don’t have credit cards, they need to pay someone to place Internet ads for them.
Officer: “So you’re doing nothing but you’re getting paid?”
Davaun Canion: “Yeah.”
Officer: “For some other girl to have sex?”
Devaun Canion: “Yeah.”
This teen lived that life starting at age fourteen.
Victim: “It made me feel nasty, dirty.”
She’s sixteen now and said that all the money she earned went to a woman who set up her meetings with men.
Carmel Cafiero: “Nothing?”
Victim: “No. I used to give my money to them all the time.”
She said all she got in return was a place to stay. The same hotel room she turned tricks in.
Carmel Cafiero: “What hold did she have over you?”
Victim: “I don’t know, I was young. She was the only person, so I had to listen to her.”
Carmel Cafiero: “And how many men would you be with in a day, on average?”
Victim: “Like ten or fifteen.”
Carmel Cafiero: “A day?”
Victim: “Yeah, a day.”
Saving young victims is what the Fort Lauderdale human trafficking unit is all about.
Chief Frank Adderley, Ft. Lauderdale Police Department: “Our main objective is to take these innocent victims, get them back on the right track, and build criminal cases on the people that are taking advantage of them.”
But saving young victims is not easy, and sometimes they have to be saved repeatedly before they break free from the invisible chains that bind them to the abusers.
Victim: “I’m not goin nowhere, damn.”
Officer: “And we’re still gonna remember that they’re victims and they need our help, and we’ll do everything we can and hope to get her through it.”
This team will be on the streets, night and day, hoping to protect youngsters and arrest the people who would use them for their own selfish purposes.