Prosecuting Sex Traffickers Comes With Challenges

When it comes to human trafficking, Florida tops the list for calls reporting it. But after an arrest is made, NBC 6 Investigators found holding traffickers accountable isn’t easy.

An interrogation video, exclusively obtained by NBC 6 Investigators, shows Miami-Dade Police detectives questioning a man charged in a sex trafficking case in 2016.

“The girl is a minor...that’s a big no-no, bro. That’s a big deal,” a detective tells Maurice Jerome Jackson, who was arrested and charged with deriving proceeds from prostitution.

The victim, who was advertised online as an “Exotic Goddess” with “mesmerizing curves,” was a 16-year-old girl.

When it comes to human trafficking, Florida tops the list for calls reporting it. But after an arrest is made, NBC 6 Investigators found holding traffickers accountable isn’t easy.

An online ad, obtained by police, says she was available “all night plus I come to you.”

According to the police report, Jackson was one of the people taking her to the Johns.

A total of three people were arrested and charged in connection to the girl's trafficking, including her pimp and a relative of the victim who we’re not identifying.

This is the type of case the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s human trafficking unit looks into.

“We have dual objective, one is to save the victim, rescue the victim...and then to get to the trafficker because once you save that victim, he’s just up to the next,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

Rundle says her office has worked over 600 human trafficking-related cases.

“For the most part, they are young, they are being sold for sex, they have been beaten, they have been drugged, they are being retaliated against,” Rundle said referring to the cases.

But she admits holding traffickers accountable comes with unique challenges – like victims who fear going after those who sold them.

"There’s a lot of shame and humiliation,” Rundle said.

NBC 6 Investigators dug through state records from the Florida Courts and the Department of Corrections involving the most serious human trafficking charge. The records include arrests, charges and convictions.

We identified more than 50 people who were arrested and charged in Miami-Dade County under the state’s human trafficking statute in a three-year period.

We found in more than half of those cases, charges for human trafficking were dropped or never filed at all. Another chunk faced less serious charges that carry more lenient sentences.

Our research revealed only two defendants, out of those arrested and charged during that period, were convicted as traffickers and are serving time behind bars.

One of them is Jamal Brown - the man identified as the pimp in the 2016 case. Court records show he was convicted after entering a plea deal.

Jackson and the victim’s relative, who were charged with lesser crimes, pleaded guilty and received probation.

“Sometimes we can’t just make a case as we would like to, we just do the best we can,” Rundle said.

NBC 6 Investigators asked the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office to give us the total number of convictions in the county related to any human trafficking but they didn’t provide the information.

Katariina Rosenblatt is a sex trafficking survivor turned activist.

“People who are in organized crime want to shut down my voice and any voice of a survivor who says I believe in prosecution,” she said.

Rosenblatt praises Rundle’s office but says she wants to see tougher penalties for traffickers and those who work with them.

“Everybody should be held accountable who is involved in the buying or selling of a victim of human trafficking,” Rosenblatt said adding “it’s not OK to give them a slap on the wrist.”

Jackson declined to give us an on camera interview. We reached out to the other two charged in the case but never heard back.

Contact Us