It is a mother's worst nightmare. Her child ends up in the hands of a monster – sold for sex and treated like a commodity. That's what happened to four young girls, all between 15 and 17 years old, when they met Eric Bell in 2009 and 2010.
That nightmare came to an end Tuesday, September 18, 2012, when
The girls who worked for them knew them as Santana (
"I trusted them with my life, and they took it for granted," said one of the victims in court Monday. "Being forced into prostitution hurt me. I try to forget about it, but I can't. Even now, I think it is okay to sell my body. And it hurts every time I do it. It feels like I am selling my soul to the devil."
The case began after a victim shared statements with a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office detective that indicated she was a victim of sex trafficking. After interviewing her, a detective from the sheriff's office began an Internet search to see if he could track down Pocahontas, who was associated with several Craigslist advertisements and a MySpace account. Investigators linked the ads featuring Pocahontas to an Internet Protocol address used by Prom.
After that, special agents from HSI, the FBI and the Clearwater Human Trafficking Task Force conducted surveillance at
In January 2011, a criminal complaint was filed in federal court against
HSI and FBI special agents arrested
"Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes our special agents investigate. This case was particularly unnerving because it involved the sex trafficking of minors," said McCormick. "Thanks to the efforts of HSI, the Clearwater Human Trafficking Task Force and the FBI, Eric Bell can no longer exploit young girls for his own gain."