April 28, 2018, Ocala, FL
Today in Ocala, Florida, Ryan Poole was sentenced to 30 years in prison for human trafficking.
Marion County Detective Zackary Hughes said, “This was the fourth case of human trafficking case in Marion County’s history, and the first one to ever go in front of a jury.” A jury that found Poole guilty of human trafficking.
Poole met his victim online and began a romantic relationship during a vulnerable time in her life. In the beginning, everything seemed to be going well. He seemed to care a lot about her and she said he “always wanted to talk about me and my life.”
After he earned her trust, everything changed. He held a sawed-off shotgun to her face, threatened her son and loved ones, and made it clear that he owned her.
Poole treated her as a slave. She was forced to cook and clean for him and branded her with a tattoo of his initials.
He forced her to use cocaine to keep her dependent on him and posted ads online for people to have sex with her for money. She was sold countless times in 5 counties in and around Orlando and he took every penny.
She lived in constant fear. If she tried to leave, he might kill her son. He even tracked her movements and she suffered dire consequences if she didn’t go where she was supposed to.
In fact, Poole raped and beat her when she turned off the tracking app in her phone. This was the last straw. After this attack, she made sure her son was safe with his father and she left. She took pictures of the injuries and went to the Sheriff’s department.
Poole was arrested in December 2017 and will spend the next 30 years in prison.
Sheriff Emery Gainey, in a statement released to the media, said: “This arrest is a result of combined efforts of several agencies and an engaged public in Marion County working in partnership to identify these cases and deal with them as proactively as possible.”
Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “This disgusting human trafficker branded his victim, raped and forced her to perform sex acts. We will not allow this evil to persist in Florida, and today’s sentencing serves as a strong warning to anyone trying to enslave and traffic people in our state”
The greater-Orlando region is rife with human trafficking, but we are working statewide to stop it and are grateful to city and state leaders for standing against this evil.
by Blair Pippin • Creative & Prevention Director