Two men are facing human trafficking charges in unrelated cases that led to the rescue of women they were victimizing, Sheriff Chad Chronister announced Wednesday.
In the first case, Roannil Lee Fentress II, 31, met a 20-year-old woman on a dating app and persuaded her to move from Jacksonville to Tampa “with the false promise of a better way of life,” Chronister said at a news conference at the office’s Ybor City headquarters.
“He immediately exploited her insecurities and vulnerabilities,” Chronister said. “He immediately took control of every aspect of her daily life.”
An undercover detective in the sheriff’s offices human trafficking squad connected with the woman through an online advertisement and arranged to meet with the woman for sex on May 24 at a Tampa hotel, according to an arrest affidavit. When she was confronted by investigators in a hotel room, the woman broke down and said she had met Fentress about three months earlier and was being trafficked against her will, according to Chronister and the affidavit.
The woman said Fentress required her to earn between $700 to $1,000 each day in the sex trade and when she failed to meet the quota, he beat her and sexually abused her, the affidavit states.
Detectives arrested Fentress, who had been waiting for the woman in a Jeep parked in the hotel’s lot. He faces charges of coercion for commercial sex act by human trafficking, deriving proceeds from prostitution and forcing another to become a prostitute.
Fentress has multiple prior felony convictions and at the time of his arrest was on probation for fleeing from law enforcement, records show.
Chronister said the second case “is like a plot out of a scary movie” and involved a woman who had been a human trafficking victim for the last 15 years.
The suspect in that case is Vanzini Nikoli Hansell, 42, who over the years beat the woman, causing several broken bones and fractures, according to the sheriff.
When the woman recently learned she might be pregnant, Hansell hit her in the abdomen to try to terminate the pregnancy, battering her to the point that she had to be taken to Tampa General Hospital for treatment on May 25, according to the sheriff’s office.
Hospital staff alerted authorities, and sheriff’s office deputies responded, spoke with the woman and called in human trafficking squad members to continue the investigation, Chronister said.
Hansell was arrested Friday in Pasco County and faces charges of human trafficking, deriving proceeds from prostitution, forcing another to become a prostitute and felony battery. His previous record includes 37 prior felony charges and 10 felony convictions, according to the sheriff’s office.
Both women are receiving help from Selah Freedom, a faith-based, nonprofit organization that provides services such as housing and therapy to human trafficking victims.
Misti LaPerriere, Selah Freedom’s law enforcement liaison and trainer who appeared with Chronister, praised the women for speaking up and urged other people who may be in similar situations to do the same.
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“They are the true heroes in this, to stand up and be able to say, ‘Hey, this happened to me and I want help,’ and to accept the help that’s there,” LaPerriere said.