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Pasco Sheriff: Middleburg man arrested for orchestrating human trafficking

For Clay Today
Posted 6/1/23

Pasco Sheriff’s Office announced the arrests of four individuals in a human trafficking case that extended beyond Pasco County. Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody …

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Pasco Sheriff: Middleburg man arrested for orchestrating human trafficking


Posted

Pasco Sheriff’s Office announced the arrests of four individuals in a human trafficking case that extended beyond Pasco County. Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and members of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office disclosed the case last week. A 16-year-old survivor, who was speaking with a Victim Advocate for another program, began to share her experiences with that Victim Advocate, and this initiated an investigation. The survivor met several men on dating websites starting in December 2022. That included Randy Coffelt Jr., 44, to whom the survivor was introduced while chatting on Chat Avenue. The survivor believed she was in a dating relationship with Coffelt and talked with him frequently, first through Chat Avenue’s private messaging feature, then through text messages. The survivor informed Coffelt of her age, to which Coffelt stated that he “liked young girls.” At the time of this conversation, the survivor was 15 years old. 

The two continued to talk, and Coffelt expressed that he wanted the survivor to have sex with other men and that he wanted them to record it. Coffelt further explained that he wanted the recorded encounters sent to him. The survivor agreed to do this as she felt it would please Coffelt. 

During March 2023, Coffelt made an account on the website Adult Friend Finder and made arrangements with three men through the site to meet with the survivor to engage in sexual conduct. All three encounters were similar. Coffelt provided the men with the survivor’s contact information. Each man then picked up the survivor from her home, engaged in sexual conduct with the survivor while filming or attempting to film the acts, and transmitted the videos back to Coffelt.

PSO said the men also provided drugs and vapes to the survivor during their encounters. Coffelt was charged with three counts of human trafficking, three counts of use of a child in a sexual performance, two counts of transmission of child pornography, the transmission of harmful material to a minor via an electronic device, three counts of using of two-way communication device to facilitate a felony, forcing another to become a prostitute. His bond was set at $375,000.

Branden Robert Sarno, 33, of Port Richey, was booked with having unlawful sex with a minor. His bond is $50,000.

Sidney Raymond Smith, 68, of Holiday, was charged with human trafficking, using a child in a sexual performance, producing child porn, unlawful sex with a minor, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. His bond is $150,000.

John Ayotunde Kehinde, 29, of New Port Richey, was booked for human trafficking, using a child in a sexual performance, production of child pornography, unlawful sex with a minor, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, distribution of child pornography and the unlawful use of two-way communication device to facilitate a felony. His bond is $75,000.

Through investigative means, Pasco investigators determined Coffelt resided in Middleburg. Therefore, Clay County Sheriff’s Office assisted with his arrest. The Pasco Sheriff’s Office said it was deeply grateful for their care and commitment to this case. The FDLE also assisted and continues to assist with this investigation.

Nocco urged parents and guardians to be aware of what children are doing online and with whom they speak. Speaking of human trafficking, Sheriff Nocco said, “its happening online.” He also urged additional victims to have the courage to come forward and report it. 

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “This is an incredibly devastating case.”

She described the level of control Coffelt had over the survivor, as well as the bravery of the survivor in coming forward.

“This young victim who bravely came forward to work with law enforcement officers has no doubt saved young girls from going through this same hell,” Moody said.

“This suspect was a master groomer in the most reprehensible sense of the term, manipulating and exploiting a vulnerable minor for his own twisted gains,” FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass said. “I am grateful to FDLE’s agents and analysts, the investigators at Pasco Sheriff’s Office, and the prosecutors at Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution for their work on this case to ensure that his days of preying on our youth are over.”

Although all suspects were arrested, there is the potential for additional victims and survivors. This remains an active and ongoing investigation. Anyone that may be a victim in this or any human trafficking case should notify law enforcement immediately. To make a report with CCSO, call (904) 264-6512 or leave a tip on SaferWatch.

In this case, anyone with information is urged to call the Pasco Sheriff’s Crime Tips Line at (800) 706-2488, or report tips online at PascoSheriff.com/tips. Human trafficking can be reported through FDLE’s Human Trafficking Hotline at (855) FLA-SAFE.