Youth Pastor and Foster Parent Arrested For Human Trafficking In Florida

Photo Credit: Fox News/ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Two Florida men were taken into custody after they were caught soliciting minors for sexual activity on social media, according to officials per Fox News

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office human trafficking team said they discovered Moises Escoto, a 36-year-old youth pastor, and Joel Lutz, a 38-year-old registered foster parent after a mother came forward and reported seeing alarming text on her 16-year-old’s phone. involved in connection with a human trafficking investigation, said.

According to investigators, Escoto reached out to the victim two years ago on a chat and meetup app called Sniffies. He allegedly asked the minor for sexually explicit pictures and videos in exchange for money and gifts. Escoto is also accused of meeting with the victim and engaging in sexual acts, investigators said. He was a youth pastor at Iglesia de Cristo Misionera Mahanaim Church. He was arrested on Feb. 9.

Joel Lutz, a registered foster parent and an employee at Outback Steakhouse, also engaged in sexual acts with minors he found on the Sniffies app in exchange for money. He was arrested on Feb. 15. 

“It is absolutely disgusting that these two men, who were placed in positions of mentorship and trust with children in our community, used online apps to seek out and victimize our youth,”

Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, we know that predators are constantly on the hunt to ruin the innocence of our community. I urge parents to know where and what their children are doing online at all times. We will not stop searching for these deviants wherever they may be, and we ask for parents and the community to help us protect our precious children.”

Both men were charged with human trafficking for commercial sexual activity, lewd or lascivious battery, use of computer services or devices to solicit certain illegal acts, traveling to meet a minor after using computer services or devices to solicit certain illegal acts, and other charges.

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