TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Officials say a Houston man is accused of traveling to Florida to drop a young girl off at a hotel to engage in prostitution. On Thursday, Acting U.S. Attorney Karin Hoppman announced 32-year-old Jamel Muldrew has been charged with several counts associated with sex trafficking of a minor. He faces a potential life sentence in federal prison.
On April 9, law enforcement coordinated an operation in Tampa to identify and rescue victims of human trafficking. An undercover officer arranged to have sex with a minor at a hotel in exchange for $800. They say Muldrew dropped the girl off and she was met by detectives inside. Muldrew was arrested.
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The following is a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice:
Texas Man Arrested And Charged With Sex Trafficking Of A Minor
Tampa, Florida – Acting United States Attorney Karin Hoppmann announces the filing of a criminal complaint charging Jamel Muldrew (32, Houston, TX) with sex trafficking of a minor, interstate transportation of a person to engage in prostitution, and enticement of a person to travel interstate for prostitution. If convicted on all counts, Muldrew faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.
According to the complaint, on or about April 9, 2021, law enforcement coordinated an operation in Tampa to identify and rescue victims of human trafficking, and to identify and arrest their traffickers. As part of this operation, an undercover officer arranged to engage in prostitution with a minor victim at a local hotel in exchange for $800. A male, later identified as Muldrew, then drove the minor victim to the hotel, dropped her off, and drove to nearby mall parking lot to wait. After being dropped off, the minor victim entered the hotel room where she was met by detectives. Law enforcement officers arrested Muldrew at the mall parking lot and searched him, recovering multiple fictious identity documents for both himself and the minor victim.
Subsequent investigation revealed that, from February until April 2021, Muldrew had trafficked the minor victim across the country to engage in prostitution, including in Texas, New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia, and ultimately Florida, where he was arrested.
A complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and the Houston (Texas) Police Department. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ilyssa M. Spergel.
Anyone who is or who knows a potential victim in this or any other case of sex trafficking or human trafficking, or who has any information regarding this or any other investigation, should contact Homeland Security Investigations toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2423 or by completing its online tip form found at https://www.ice.gov/webform/ice-tip-form.
This case was brought as part of the Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force of the Middle District of Florida, one of 13 such task forces in the country to receive grant funding from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Task Force is a collaboration of local, state, and federal law enforcement agents working together with organizations to detect, investigate, and prosecute human trafficking in the Tampa Bay area. This includes trafficking of minors, forced labor, transnational sex trafficking, and sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud, or coercion. More information about the Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force can be found at www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/humantrafficking. Information on the Department of Justice’s efforts to combat human trafficking can be found at www.justice.gov/humantrafficking.