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Press Release

United States Attorney Commemorates National Slavery And Human Trafficking Prevention Month

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, FL - United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg highlights efforts by federal, state, and local partners to prevent and combat human trafficking in the Middle District of Florida (MDFL) during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month. The United States Attorney’s Human Trafficking Task Force leads law enforcement’s combined efforts to inform and protect communities across the district throughout the year.

“Human trafficking is a crime that crosses all borders and affects communities worldwide,” said U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg. “We will continue to work with our federal, state, local, and international partners to vigorously prosecute those responsible for committing these heinous crimes.”

During the 31 days of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month (January), the Human Trafficking Task Force, headed by Assistant United States Attorney Lisa M. Thelwell and with the support of the USAO-MDFL community outreach coordinators, assisted in the coordination and safe delivery of various virtual events to enable broader participation in joint human trafficking efforts, while preventing the spread of COVID-19. These presentations included the following:

  • “Combatting Human Trafficking on the Front Line: How Nurses Play a Critical Role,” presented during Advent Health’s 4th Annual Human Trafficking symposium. At least 240 healthcare professionals attended this virtual event, which highlighted that healthcare professionals are the 3rd top point of contact (after friends/family and law enforcement) for Human Trafficking victims seeking assistance. The presentation also explored the importance of documenting and preserving evidence by healthcare professionals, as well as the ability to identify signs and respond effectively to potential trafficking situations.


  • The Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force virtual roundtable convened to discuss the Task Force’s collaborative approach to combatting human trafficking. The group spoke about the challenges and successes during the pandemic and large-scale events, as well as the role that technology has played in targeting, recruiting, and trafficking victims. Participating agencies included the St. Petersburg Police Department, the Tampa Police Department, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, the Tampa Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Selah Freedom. The event was hosted by the FBI Tampa Citizens Academy Alumni Association. 


  • “The Good Fight: A Strategic Approach to Supporting Juvenile Survivors of Human Trafficking,” a panel discussion, was hosted by the Tampa Bay Chapter of the National Black Prosecutor’s Association. The virtual event highlighted the ways criminal justice stakeholders work collaboratively with child advocates and victim service providers to develop cross-system solutions to support survivors of human trafficking. The event was livestreamed to Facebook.

In addition to providing education, prevention, and technical and training assistance, the USAO-MDFL also vigorously prosecutes human trafficking crimes. Some of the most recent cases include:

United States v. Samuel Christopher Templeman and Deborah Lynn Templeman – In June 2021, Samuel Christopher Templeman pleaded guilty to conspiring to sex traffic a child, he faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison. His wife, Deborah Lynn Templeman, pleaded guilty to possession of child sex abuse material and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. According to the plea agreements, in 2018, Samuel Templeman and the child victim began regularly using heroin and crack cocaine together. Also at that time, a pimp began directing the child victim to engage in sex acts in exchange for drugs. In July 2019, a court terminated the Templemans’ custodial rights over the child victim and ordered them not to have any contact with the child.  The child was then placed in foster care, from which the child ran away.  In late August 2019, Samuel Templeman received over $25,000 in inheritance, which the Templemans used to entice the child to return to them.  By mid-October 2019, the Templemans had spent the entire inheritance, primarily on drugs for Samuel Templeman and the victim. Thereafter, the only legitimate income for the Templemans and the victim was Deborah Templeman’s bi-weekly salary, which they spent 1-2 days after receipt. During the remaining portions of each month, the Templemans’ only income was derived from their sex trafficking of the child victim for money and the victim’s occasional panhandling. The Templemans spent most of that money on drugs and the rest on living expenses. On December 11, 2019, a detective from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office went to Deborah Templeman’s place of employment in an attempt to locate the victim. While there, the detective overheard phone conversations in which Samuel Templeman told Deborah Templeman that he was taking the victim to a “date,” a common slang term for an appointment for the child to have sex for money, and that he would then come pick up Deborah Templeman. When Samuel Templeman later arrived at Deborah Templeman’s workplace, authorities arrested him and recovered the child victim. Pursuant to a search warrant, investigators reviewed Deborah Templeman’s cellphone and found it contained sexually explicit images of the child victim. This case was investigated by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Laura Cofer Taylor and Special Assistant United States Attorney Erin Wolfson.

United States v. Henry Lee White, III – White was indicted in March 2021 and charged with sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, transportation of an individual in interstate commerce for the purpose of prostitution, coercion and enticement, and being a felon in possession of ammunition. White pleaded guilty on December 29, 2021, and is pending sentencing. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, and up to life, imprisonment. According to court documents, between June 2, 2020, and January 7, 2021, White used force, threats of force, fraud, and coercion to cause Victim 1 to engage in commercial sex. During that time, White trafficked Victim 1 within the Middle District of Florida, and transported Victim 1 from Florida to Georgia so that Victim 1 could engage in prostitution. Victim 1 was recovered during a Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force operation in January 2021. This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tampa Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lisa M. Thelwell.

United States v. Jamel Muldrew – Muldrew was arrested on a criminal complaint in April 2021 and charged 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. He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years, and up to life, imprisonment. The victim was recovered during a Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force operation in April 2021. According to court records, 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 a 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 in 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. This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and the Houston (Texas) Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ilyssa M. Spergel and Carlton C. Gammons.

United States v. Bladimir Moreno et al. Three defendants were indicted in September 2021 and charged with labor trafficking, conspiracy, and racketeering. According to court documents, from 2015 through 2017, the defendants participated in running a labor contracting company for H-2A agricultural workers called Los Villatoros Harvesting (LVH), which functioned as a criminal enterprise. LVH subjected multiple Mexican H-2A agricultural workers employed in Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, Georgia, and North Carolina to forced labor. LVH also harbored H-2A workers in the United States after their visas had expired for financial gain and committed visa fraud and fraud in foreign labor contracting. This case was investigated by the Palm Beach County Human Trafficking Task Force (to include the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office), with assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor - Office of the Inspector General, and the U.S. Department of State - Diplomatic Security Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frank Murray and Trial Attorneys Avner Shapiro and Maryam Zhuravitsky of the Civil Rights Division.

United States v. Michael Davis – Davis was convicted at trial in April 2021 of conspiring and attempting to engage in the sex trafficking of a minor. He was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in prison in July 2021. This case is a result of an undercover operation by FBI Denver. According to court records, in December 2017, Davis attempted to recruit and entice a fictious minor to travel to Tampa to engage in commercial sex. Davis orchestrated the purchase of a one-way bus ticket for the child and arranged to pick her up from the bus station. At trial, Davis’ co-defendant testified to Davis’ role in the conspiracy and that she had also been trafficked by Davis. Davis was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in federal prison. This case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lisa M. Thelwell.

United States v. Sean Patrick Farrelly – Farrelly pleaded guilty in June 2019 and was sentenced in April 2021 to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking a minor. According to court records, between March 2018 and February 2019, Farrelly recruited, enticed, and solicited a 16-year-old child to engage in commercial sex acts, by texting the victim, sending her pictures of money, and providing her with alcohol or marijuana. Farrelly paid the child victim $30 to $40 each time that they engaged in sexual intercourse. This case was investigated by Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ashley Washington.

United States v. Gregory Thomas Garcia – Garcia was indicted and charged with one count of commercial sex trafficking of a minor in October 2020 and was sentenced in July 2021 to 16 years in prison and ordered to pay $6,250 in restitution. According to court documents, Garcia began communicating via text message with a 16-year-old child. A special agent with Homeland Security Investigations discovered the text messages between Garcia and the victim while investigating a separate crime. The victim confirmed to the special agent and a detective with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office that she had met with Garcia more than 20 times and on each occasion, Garcia had paid her to allow Garcia to sexually abuse her. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Laura Cofer Taylor.




Updated January 31, 2022

Civil Rights
Human Trafficking