Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Five people are arrested in child prostitution sting

Jo Jo Missy Shipp

Jo Jo Missy Shipp

TAMPA — An undercover sting targeting child prostitution led to the rescue of six Tampa Bay area youngsters and the arrest of five adults, FBI officials said Tuesday.

Federal and local authorities carried out the investigation as part of a national effort called Operation Cross Country II, which rescued a total of 47 child prostitutes around the country during a three-day sting that took place last week.

It was the latest effort by the Innocence Lost Initiative, a program started in 2003 to target domestic sex trafficking of children.

"It's a rapidly growing problem that we're seeing nationwide," said FBI Tampa spokesman Dave Couvertier.

He said pedophiles look for underage victims on social networking sites or by visiting prostitution "hot spots," like motels along Nebraska Avenue, truck stops and casinos. They also frequent adult businesses to track down children through pimps or other prostitutes. All are places investigators focused on during the operation.

"There's a large underground network," Couvertier said.

He said pimps recruit prostitutes by preying on runaways or homeless and vulnerable children looking for affection on the Internet. Pimps are attracted to young people struggling with a drug habit, and barter drugs for their services.

The adults rounded up in the sting included two pimps and three female prostitutes, authorities said.

Officials said the pimps were Edgar Carlos Bueno, 41, of Tampa, charged with transporting for prostitution, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia; and James S. Sims, 29, of 4850 Heron Pointe Drive in Tampa, charged with deriving support from proceeds of prostitution.

The arrested adult females were Celedonia Helen House, 20, of 8208 Clermont St. in Tampa, charged with prostitution; Kokiela Tresce Eaves, 19, of 1523 W Broad St. in Tampa, charged with prostitution, uttering a forged instrument and two counts of grand theft; and Jo Jo Missy Shipp, 28, who has the same address as Sims, was charged with two counts of offering to commit prostitution.

Of the six juveniles rescued last week, who were all 16 or 17, one said she had been involved in prostitution since she was 12, Couvertier said.

"Once they're groomed and conditioned, they are threatened and coerced into that lifestyle of prostitution," he said.

Locally, the FBI partners with the Tampa police and Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office for undercover stings. Four of the six young people recovered in Tampa were listed as endangered runaways with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Once authorities rescue them, they are referred to a local child protective services agency to be placed in protective custody.

During a news conference this week in Washington, D.C., to announce the results of Operation Cross Country II, FBI deputy director John S. Pistole called sex trafficking of children "one of the most violent and unconscionable crimes."

"There are few law enforcement missions more important than protecting our nation's children," Pistole said in remarks on the FBI's Web site.

Couvertier said the latest sting netted the largest number of children in one operation since the initiative began in 2003.

Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

>>FAST FACTS

Innocence Lost Initiative

• Established in 2003.

• Resulted in 265 indictments and 365 convictions on state and federal charges.



• Recovered 575 child victims.

An incorrect address was previously published for Edgar Bueno.

Five people are arrested in child prostitution sting 10/28/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 3, 2008 11:06am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Baker lowers expectations for primary

    Blogs

    Rick Baker officially lowered expectations Tuesday, saying his “battle for the future of the city” against Mayor Rick Kriseman might last until November.

    Rick Baker addresses supporters on Beach Drive Tuesday
  2. Former Sen. Greg Evers, advocate for law enforcement, dead at 62.

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Former State Sen. Greg Evers, the Baker Florida strawberry farmer and veteran politician, was killed in a single car crash hear his home in Okaloosa County. The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the death late Tuesday, but deferred any further information pending an investigation. He was 62.

    Former Florida Senator Greg Evers, R- Milton, was a passionate advocate for law enforcement and corrections officers. He was found dead Tuesday afternoon in a car crash. He was 62. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Polk sheriff: Gibsonton man sent child porn to Bay News 9 anchor

    Crime

    A 20-year-old Gibsonton man was indicted on federal charges after authorities said he repeatedly sent child pornography to a news anchor for Bay News 9.

    Marchaun Browning, 20 of Gibsonton, was indicted on federal charges, accused of sending child pornography to a news anchor for Bay News 9 using Twitter. [Courtesy of Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  4. 5 things to do under $5: Type artists, shuffleboard, toy train show, Wildflower Walk

    Events

    1 Letterheads Typefest: The muralists who run Illsol Space, a gallery in Tampa Heights, said their respect for handmade fonts and sign painting techniques moved them to curate this exhibit featuring type-based muralists, hand-style lettering designers, sign painters, letterpress studios and type designers. …

    Colm O’Connor, a Dublin sign writer, is among the 22 artists featured in the Letterheads Typefest exhibit at the Illsol Space gallery.
  5. Foundation Partners buys Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.

    Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]