A hot topic in the world of social justice is human trafficking. This involves prostitution rings using sex slaves to turn profits. Many times, the sex slaves being trafficked are minors. The sex slaves are forced to give up their bodies for their captors’ benefit with violence and psychological abuse. One such ring was recently broken up in Orlando. 21 suspects were arrested in connection with this ring that sold sex and drugs, namely heroin and cocaine.
The ring was broken up thanks to a two year investigation called “Operation Pop-a-Smurf,” which probed operations in Orange and Osceola counties. The investigation, headed up by the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigations and Drug Enforcement Agency, got its name because of the ringleader, Keith “Smurf” Hamlet. It was discovered that more than 25 women and one minor were being sold to johns through advertisements on Backpage, a site commonly used for prostitution. Charges have been dropped for at least eight of the women (including the minor) after they came forward as victims. “They’re strung out on heroin, cocaine, pharmaceuticals. They’ve had a lot of violence inflicted on them, and they’re afraid, said vice commander of the MBI’s Human Trafficking division Mike Gibson.
Casey King, 28, was listed as a suspect during the investigation, but her case was closed on the street. She was found shot to death at a home tied to the investigation. There are still eight suspects on the loose, including one Edward “Man-Man” Redmond, one of Smurf’s top associates. He is wanted for various charges including, human trafficking of a minor and racketeering, as well as possession of over 28 grams of each heroin and cocaine.
The victims are now receiving counseling and assisting with the investigation, according to My News 13.