WASHINGTON, DC – On May 18, 2023, the Human Trafficking Institute (HTI) recognized the United States Attorney Markenzy Lapointe, and the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida, as the federal district with the highest number of criminal human trafficking cases filed in 2022 among the 94 U.S. federal districts.
The recognition of the Southern District of Florida comes as a result of HTI’s annual Federal Human Trafficking Report (FHTR), set to be released on June 5, 2023, which provides an exhaustive review of every federal human trafficking case filed in the United States each year. The FHTR is the only annual report that mines emerging trends and key findings and identifies top performers in the federal response to human trafficking. HTI utilizes the data collected to empower and guide prosecutors and law enforcement in best practices to combat human trafficking in the United States and around the world.
In 2022, the Southern District of Florida filed twelve (12) new criminal human trafficking cases, all of which involved allegations of sex trafficking. The Southern District of Florida has filed the highest number of criminal human trafficking cases in the United States federal court system for three of the last five years. Florida tied for first place with Texas for the state with the most federal human trafficking cases filed in 2022, with 17 new cases filed between the Southern, Middle and Northern federal districts of Florida.
Of the twelve (12) new criminal human trafficking cases filed in the Southern District of Florida in 2022, nine (9) cases resulted from collaboration between the United States Attorney’s Office and human trafficking task forces serving Southern Florida. The South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Human Trafficking Task Force, and the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, each contributed to the investigation, arrest, and charging of the twelve defendants indicted for human trafficking in 2022.
In addition to the filing of twelve new human trafficking cases in 2022, the Southern District of Florida also convicted nineteen (19) defendants of human trafficking or related charges in 2022. Notable convictions in 2022 included that of United States v. Anthony Bernard Carter who received a sentence of 25 years for his transportation of both a minor and adult victim to Miami for the purpose of exploiting them through commercial sex during Super Bowl LVI, and United States v. William Foster, a career trafficker who was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison for operating a human trafficking scheme across various nightclubs in Miami over a period of several years. Prosecutors secured an award of $14 million dollars in restitution for the victims of Foster, one of whom was identified by HTI as having been exploited by Foster for 2,648 days.
The exploitation victims of trafficking experience can result in significant psychological, emotional and physical trauma. Restitution for victims helps provide much needed support for victims of trafficking. Recognizing the importance of restitution for survivors of trafficking, the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida secured the entrance of nineteen orders of restitution against the traffickers convicted, totaling $14,167,735 in victim restitution. The Southern District of Florida also sought forfeiture of assets against five (5) of the defendants charged in 2022, seeking to convert defendant’s assets such as real estate, vehicles, or other property for payment of restitution to victims.
“HTI applauds the work of the Southern District of Florida in their meaningful contribution to combat human trafficking in the United States,” said Victor Boutros, CEO of HTI. “The persistence and commitment shown by prosecutors, law enforcement, and victim services in the Southern District of Florida serves as a beacon of tangible hope for victims of trafficking.”