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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 2, 2019

Miami Resident Sentenced to Life in Prison for Sex Trafficking a Minor, Producing Child Pornography and Witness Tampering

Jason Gatlin, 42, of Miami, was sentenced today to life in prison by U.S. District Judge Rodney Smith, after having been convicted by a trial jury of sex trafficking a minor, producing child pornography and witness tampering (Case No. 19cr20163).

Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Juan J. Perez, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), made the announcement.

According to the court record, in October of 2018, the defendant met the 17-year-old victim through another 17-year-old girl.  Gatlin knew the victim had a history of running away and being trafficked by others for prostitution.  Over the course of the next two months, the defendant tricked the victim into believing that he loved her and wanted to marry her.  He enticed her with his attention and drugs, gave her money for sex, took photos of them having sex, and lied to her.  Gatlin made the victim believe that he wanted to marry her, that he did not want her to prostitute, and that he wanted her to get a real job.  Instead, after gaining her trust, Gatlin bought the victim a cell phone that was used to set up prostitution dates, transported her to motels, and rented motel rooms for her so that she could commit prostitution, and harbored her for days in the Keys while she was advertised on an escort website.  Then, at the end of November, when Gatlin felt that victim was not living up to his rules, he beat her up and left her at a gas station down in the Keys with a swollen face, and bloody, ripped clothes.  The victim called the police and the defendant was arrested a few days later.

While incarcerated, Gatlin began bribing the victim into committing perjury.  Gatlin had a relative give the victim money and Gatlin promised more money if the victim told the authorities that she was never trafficked by the defendant and never had sex with him.  In addition, Gatlin’s relative housed the victim for a short period and then drove her to a defense attorney’s office for her to recant in a sworn statement.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.  Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, in partnership with MDPD’s Human Trafficking Squad, and assistance from Monroe County Sherriff’s Office, Plantation Police Department, FBI Chicago, and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigatory efforts of the FBI Miami Child Exploitation Task Force, MDPD, and all those who assisted in this matter.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica Kahn Obenauf and J. Mackenzie Duane. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrienne Rosen is handling the asset forfeiture aspects of the case.

To report suspected human trafficking or to obtain resources for victims, please call 1-888-373-7888; text “BeFree” (233733), or live chat at HumanTraffickingHotline.org.  The toll-free phone, SMS text lines, and online chat function are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Help is available in English, Spanish, Creole, or in more than 200 additional languages.  The National Hotline is not managed by law enforcement, immigration or an investigative agency.  Correspondence with the National Hotline is confidential and you may request assistance or report a tip anonymously.

To learn more about the National Resource Hotline visit www.humantraffickinghotline.org.  To learn more about the U.S. Department of Justice’s efforts to combat human trafficking visit www.justice.gov/humantrafficking.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Updated December 2, 2019