Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday has sentenced Henry Lee White, III (27, Orlando) to 24 years and 4 months in federal prison for sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion and for possessing ammunition as a convicted felon. As part of his sentence, the Court also ordered White to pay $87,121.98 in restitution to Victim 1 and to forfeit the electronic devices used in the commission of the offense. White had pleaded guilty on December 29, 2021.
According to court documents, from June 2020 through January 2021, White forced and coerced Victim 1 to engage in commercial sex throughout the Middle District of Florida and Georgia. White used threats of violence and physical violence to control 20-year-old Victim 1. For example, in September 2020, White transported Victim 1 to an “outcall” at an unknown apartment complex. White became upset because he thought Victim 1 was being deceptive about where she was going. White used his revolver to beat Victim 1. He then removed four of the five bullets from the revolver and played Russian Roulette with Victim 1 while holding the gun to her head and pulling the trigger. Victim 1 stated White did this about six or seven times. He then threw Victim 1’s phone at her face, causing a laceration on the center of her forehead in between her eyebrows.
During the relevant time, Victim 1 reached out to law enforcement and a local non-governmental organization for assistance. Law enforcement officers recovered Victim 1 during a joint undercover operation on January 7, 2021. At the time Victim 1 was recovered by law enforcement officers, she had an injury on her left knee that she sustained after White had thrown her to the ground in a hotel.
At the time of his arrest, White was found in possession of a chrome and burgundy semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine. The firearm had one round in the chamber and several live rounds in the magazine. White had previously been convicted of several felonies and was prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law. During the course of his arrest, law enforcement officers located and seized several cellphones that had been used to communicate with commercial sex buyers and post advertisements of Victim 1 on the internet.
“This predator used intimidation, humiliation, and violence to barbarically force his victim into submission,” said acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Silliman. “Thanks to the quick action of Homeland Security Investigations, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Tampa Police Department, and Selah Freedom, Henry White III became the first federal arrest for human trafficking under the auspices of the Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force which was created in 2020.”
“Human trafficking is a crime that is nothing less than modern-day slavery, and escaping the wrath of a human trafficker takes courage. I commend the survivor who spoke up, allowing the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and our law enforcement partners to bring her trafficker to justice,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “Through every undercover operation, I believe we are making a difference, one arrest at a time, and moving closer to our goal of ultimately eradicating human trafficking across Hillsborough County and the state of Florida.”
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tampa Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lisa M. Thelwell.
This case was brought as part of the Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force of the Middle District of Florida, which is one of 13 task forces in the country to receive grant funding from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Task Force is a collaboration of local, state, and federal law enforcement agents working together with organizations to detect, investigate, and prosecute human trafficking in the Tampa Bay area. This includes trafficking of minors, forced labor, transnational sex trafficking, and sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud, or coercion. More information about the Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force can be found at www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/humantrafficking. Information on the Department of Justice’s efforts to combat human trafficking can be found at www.justice.gov/humantrafficking.U.S DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
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