TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies rescued two human trafficking victims last week.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister shared the survivors’ stories and discussed the arrest of two alleged traffickers with lengthy criminal histories.
Chronister described the first survivor as a woman who was “barely” 20 years old. She met her alleged trafficker on a dating app and was lured to Tampa from Jacksonville “with the false promise of a better life.”
“He immediately exploited her insecurities and vulnerabilities,” Chronister said. “He immediately took total control of every aspect of her life.”
Chronister said the second survivor had been trafficked for 15 years. Her trafficker was accused of beating her to the point of breaking bones. The 42-year-old was also accused of hitting her repeatedly in the stomach while she was pregnant to force her to miscarry.
Chronister said the women were being trafficked via advertisements on the dark web. The alleged traffickers imposed quotas on the women and would physically and sexually abuse them if they did not meet the quotas, Chronister said.
“I stand here with a mixture of relief, gratitude, and determination,” Chronister said. “Relief that our efforts are working. Gratitude for the efforts of our human trafficking squad. And determined to eradicate human trafficking.”
Deputies arrested 31-year-old Roannil Lee Fentress and 42-year-old Vanzini Nickoli Hansell. Fentress is charged with human trafficking, deriving proceeds from prostitution, forcing another person to become a prostitute and a probation violation. Hansell was charged human trafficking, deriving proceeds from prostitution, forcing another person to become a prostitute and felony battery.
“The strength of this survivor inspires us to keep searching for other victims trapped in the grasp of human traffickers; it pushes us to continue supporting their healing and empowering them to reclaim their lives,” Chronister said. “As for this suspect and any other person aiming to take advantage of another, my resounding message to you is that your reign of terror is over, and we will relentlessly pursue the path of justice to ensure that no more lives fall victim to your vile acts.”
Representatives from Selah Freedom, an anti-human trafficking nonprofit, also attended the news conference. The organization supports survivors of trafficking, including the two women rescued in Hillsborough County.