MILTON (CBSMiami/AP) — Two men suspected of human trafficking were arrested after they were pulled over on I-10 in the state’s Panhandle.
A Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s deputy stopped a vehicle and noticed indicators of possible human trafficking. Two teenage boys from Guatemala were inside the vehicle, according to a statement from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The deputy called for assistance from the Florida Highway Patrol.
The boys were recently smuggled into the United States from Mexico, according to the FDLE. Agents believe the men were taking the boys to different cities in central and South Florida.
“A deputy’s keen eye and immediate multiagency cooperation were instrumental in rescuing two children,” said Chris Williams, Chief of Investigations for FDLE Pensacola Regional Operations Center.
More from CBSMiami.com
COVID-19 Variant Considered More Contagious Discovered In Florida
Key West New Year’s Eve Features Early ‘Drag Queen Drop’
You May Need A COVID Vaccine Passport To Travel In 2021
Investigators said the boys were likely trafficked to the U.S. for forced labor. The victims told investigators their families each paid more than $1,000 to be smuggled into the country. The teens were reportedly told they would have to work to pay off additional travel debt.
Agents arrested Frank Moreno, 39, of Odessa, Texas, and Jackson Perez-Godinez, 21, Guatemala. They are each charged with two counts of human trafficking and two counts of human smuggling.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)