Youth Pastor and Foster Dad in Florida Accused of Human Trafficking

36-Year-Old Moises Escoto & 38-Year-Old Joel Lutz

Cristal M Clark 

Human trafficking as hard as it is to believe is still very prevalent in today’s society. Human Trafficking is the recruitment, harbouring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronising, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act and it typically involves those who are underage or very young adults. In fact it has been said that the fastest growing industry in the world is the purchasing and selling of individuals. 

Sex Trafficking is not just a foreign problem, in fact it has been reported in all 50 States here in the US.  Slightly over 50% of those who were trafficked have reported that they did in fact attend school at some point, the majority of buyers are men and they look for girls as young as 15 on average, boys tend to be sought out at even younger ages. 

It’s a crime we have difficulty in controlling and no matter how much you try to educate the public or teens, it continues to happen. Most survivors of sex trafficking have reported that no one ever offered to help them get out of it. 

Thankfully in Hillsborough County, Florida two men were brought down and arrested. What is sickening is that one was a youth pastor and the other a faster parent. The Hillsborough County sheriff’s office said that its human trafficking team launched an investigation after a mother reported finding disturbing content on her 16-year-old’s phone. I am fairly certain that we can all guess what that disturbing content might have been. 

The investigation revealed that Moises had contacted the victim two years ago on a chat and meetup app called Sniffies. Moises allegedly solicited sexually explicit pictures and videos in exchange for money and gifts. Sadly, Moises had been secretly meeting with the victim and engaging in sexual acts.

Also during the investigation deputies found that Joel had engaged in sexual acts with a minor he also found on the Sniffies app in exchange for money.  Both men were subsequently arrested and charged. It is disgusting that two men in a position of power of a child could abuse such a privilege but then again look at the Catholic Church so it is not all that surprising. 

Some tell tale signs of an individual being trafficked: 

  • Person seems overly fearful, submissive, tense, or paranoid.
  • Person is deferring to another person before giving information.
  • Person has physical injuries or branding such as name tattoos on face or chest, tattoos about money and sex, or pimp phrases.
  • Clothing is inappropriately sexual or inappropriate for weather.
  • Minor is unaccompanied at night or falters in giving an explanation of who they are with and what they are doing.
  • Identification documents are held by another.
  • Person works long or excessive hours or is always available “on demand.”
  • Overly sexual for age or situation.
  • Multiple phones or social media accounts.
  • Signs of unusual wealth without explanation—new jewelry, shoes, phones without any known form of income.
  • Person lives in a “massage” business or is not free to come and go.
  • Person lives and works out of a hotel 

Parents should and need to monitor everything their child does whilst on the internet, I don’t care if your kids are teens, you should do it. When I grew up, we had freedom but old men molesting young kids back then was something no one wanted to talk about. Now is the time to start talking and raising awareness. Snoop on what they are doing on the internet openly snoop, protect them, if your kids show up with expensive gifts, investigate where they got them, markings, either tattoos or branding. Yes some feel that is an intrusion and it’s not fair I get it, it isn’t fair but to keep a child safe, parents and adults must look out for them much better than we are today. 

Cristal M Clark

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