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Panama City Police help bust multi-state human trafficking ring

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A joint-investigation performed by Panama City Police and the FBI has ended with the arrest of a Pensacola man and the dismantling of a human trafficking ring.

The investigation began in 2017 when investigators sent a confidential informant into a massage business on Beck Avenue. Once inside an Asian woman offered to perform sexual acts on the informant for more money, investigators wrote.

As the investigation continued officers learned that the business was owned by 41-year-old David Williams of Pensacola.

Late last week, Williams was arrested and charged with using interstate facilities for purposes of racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the harboring of illegal aliens for commercial advantage or private financial gain.

The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Pennsylvania State Police, and Pittsburgh FBI led the investigation into the organization’s operations in Pennsylvania and, on Thursday, executed nine search warrants in Turtle Creek, Carnegie, Jeannette, Bridgeville, Erie, and McKees Rock. Agents in Florida also executed multiple federal search warrants in Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, and Gainesville.

The charges allege that Williams was exploiting undocumented women and offering sexual acts for money during massages at his parlors. The investigation originated from a tip received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The investigation remains ongoing.

“The defendant allegedly used his businesses to exploit women in several different states and force them into prostitution purely to line his own pockets,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Thanks to strong collaboration with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we have put an end to this criminal enterprise and are seeking justice for the defendant’s victims.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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