Steven Snipe, 27, of West Palm Beach, Florida, was sentenced yesterday in federal court to 15 years in prison after previously pleading guilty to one count of sex trafficking a minor and one count of producing child pornography, announced Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Anthony Salisbury of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation (ICE-HSI) Chief Michael G. Gregory of the Boynton Beach Police Department, and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
“Yesterday’s sentencing demonstrates the Department of Justice’s unwavering commitment to combatting the heinous crime of sex trafficking,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The defendant’s depraved actions will not be tolerated and the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit will continue to fight to eradicate this criminal exploitation.”
“Those who sexually exploit our youth turn children into victims of deplorable acts,” stated U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan. “Our law enforcement partners in the Southern District of Florida and throughout the Department commend the strength of those who have raised their voices against an abuser. We hear your calls for help and will continue to seek justice for all, through the united force of our federal human trafficking prosecutions.”
“While the harm caused to this minor cannot be undone, our HSI special agents hope yesterday’s sentencing is another step in the recovery process for the young victim,” said HSI Miami Special Agent in Charge Anthony Salisbury.
“The Boynton Beach Police Department remains committed to vigorously investigating those who prey on youth in our community,” Chief Gregory of the Boynton Beach Police Department said. “We thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division for partnering with us in our ongoing efforts to fight sex trafficking.”
According to the indictment and facts detailed during Snipe’s plea hearing, between late May 2017 and June 29, 2017, Snipe began a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl. After several days, he provided her with a cell phone and instructed her to create an account on Backpage.com. He showed her how to post advertisements on the website, directed her to claim she was 19, and advertised her to clients. Snipe then caused the victim to engage in commercial sex for his profit at multiple hotels until June 29, 2017, when the victim called 911 to report that she was being forced to prostitute. Officers responded to a hotel and located Snipe and the victim.
Law enforcement obtained lawful authorization to search the cell phone that Snipe had provided to the victim. The cell phone contained several sexually explicit videos and multiple photographs depicting the victim in various stages of undress and Snipe engaging in sexual intercourse with the victim.
The Southern District of Florida is one of six Phase I Pilot Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams (ACTeams) convened through an interagency collaboration of the Departments of Justice, Labor and Homeland Security to develop high-impact federal human trafficking investigations and prosecutions involving forced labor, international sex trafficking and sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud and coercion.
The prosecution is the result of a joint investigation by ICE-HSI, the Boynton Beach Police Department, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, and the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Schiller for the Southern District of Florida, Special Litigation Counsel Matthew T. Grady and Trial Attorney Maryam Zhuravitsky of the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.
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