Four South Florida men are accused of running a prostitution ring that preyed on children in foster care.
Police and prosecutors arrested the men Monday as part of an ongoing investigation. They are charged with conspiracy, racketeering and unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
The men used a teenage foster child as a recruiter. They plied the girls with cash, affection and gifts, authorities said. In turn, the girls became prostitutes, bringing the ring $100 for every man they had sex with. From the $100, the girls were paid $30 to $40.
“These traffickers specifically preyed on these young foster care girls,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said Tuesday.
Children’s Home Society, which runs the group home where the girls lived, issued a statement.
“Arrests were made in this case because our staff had the training and awareness to recognize the danger facing our kids and because we engaged law enforcement. We got the girls into a nationally acclaimed program specifically designed to help them understand the danger in their choices and the importance of sharing details with investigators. We see these arrests as a victory in our long-running battle against the predators that victimize kids,” the group said in an email statement.
The four perpretators in the prostitution ring used and abused the girls, who are 15 and 16, she said.
“Just because these traffickers wanted money and they were greedy, and that’s what they were for them," Fernandez Rundle said.
Ring members would call the girls on cell phones given to them by the suspects and arrange to have sex at a building in Homestead that was used as a brothel.
The men, who were charged on Monday, are: Eric George Earle, 29, Willie Calvin Bivens, 65, Anturrell Nathaniel Dean, 30, and David Zarifi, 34. A 17-year-old foster child is also listed as the recruiter in the 13-page sworn statement, but she doesn't face charges. It wasn't immediately known if they had attorneys.
Fernandez Rundle said Earle, who is called "E-Nasty" or "E," was the ringleader, and that he would befriend the girls. He recruited and trained the first victim, and eventually convinced her to become a recruiter for other girls, she said.
Zarifi was Earle's lieutenant. He was in charge of transportation, and gave the girls phones, which were a big lure for them, Fernandez Rundle said. He also helped arrange all the meetings over the phone, she added.
Fernandez Rundle said the sexual encounters would take place at the home of Bivens, who is known as "The Tank."
Earle's stepbrother, Dean, was given a girl to lure him into the trafficking enterprise, and also got some girls to start working as well, according to the state attorney.
The enterprise began on Jan. 1, 2011 and lasted through Feb. 7, 2012, according to an affidavit.
On Dec. 1, 2011, a detective got a report from DCF that a minor in foster care was suspected of being prostituted, according to an affidavit in support of the arrest warrants, which was based upon interviews with the teenage girls. That detective then interviewed the girl who disclosed that she had had sex with a man, the affidavit said.
The detective searched her phone and found naked photos of her, the man, and both of them having sex, the affidavit said. The girl identified the man as Zarifi, authorities said.
She told authorities that she was recruited by a foster care housemate, the 17-year-old listed in the sworn statement, who told her she could make money by having sex with men.
The girl said she engaged in sex with Earle and that he introduced her to Zarifi, who had initially paid to have sex with her but then she stopped asking him for payment, the documents said. She told police Earle would arrange for her to have sex with men for money, the affidavit said.
Zarifi would pick her up outside her school or group home and would drive to a house, which she was told, was owned by Bivens, the affidavit said. She and other girls would have sex with men and get paid $40, according to the documents.
Zarifi had rented a room in Bivens' house and that’s where he and the girl would have sex, the affidavit said.
According to the documents, Earle contacted another girl had sex with her, took her to have sex with Bivens, then set her up with Dean. At some point, after she had sex with him, the girl started to work for Dean by having sex with men for money.
The girls have been referred for therapy.
Fernandez Rundle said of the johns involved in the case, "Stay tuned. Watch out – we’re coming to get ya."
She emphasized that the investigation came about because a foster care employee heard something and reported it.
“We need everybody’s eyes and ears to be on alert for these kind of predators and their victims. We need a million eyes and ears, and in this case this is exactly how we were able to save these children and arrest these perpetrators,” the state attorney said.