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A joint OPD/FBI task force investigated and arrested two women for Human Trafficking in early October.
On Monday, October 14, 2013, W/F Melissa Rodriguez, DOB 7/5/72, and B/F Ysbette Joseph, DOB 2/5/82, were booked into the Marion County Jail for Human Trafficking charges. The two were under investigation by a joint task force consisting of members of the Ocala Police Department (OPD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations(FBI). OPD’s Detective Stephen Thibodeau and agents from the FBI, with assistance from the State Attorney’s Office, had been investigating the two suspects listed above since April of 2013.

Several meetings took place between Rodriguez, Joseph and a confidential human source (CHS) from April to October 2013. Meetings were held at several locations in Ocala and once at a location in Orlando, FL. During these meetings, both Rodriguez and Joseph are documented as having participated in the negotiations for the purchase of young females between the ages of 17 and 23. A down payment for the purchase of at least 3 young illegal females was paid in cash to the two by the CHS during the investigation, and they advised that the females would be delivered to an Ocala location.

On October 4, 2013 warrants were obtained from the State for the arrests of Rodriguez and Joseph under Ocala Police Department case #201300182654. The case was immediately sealed by Court order so as not to compromise the investigation and the capture of Rodriguez and Joseph.
On October 9, 2013, the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigations (MBI) and the FBI out of Orlando were able to locate Rodriguez and take her into custody; she was booked into the Orange County Jail at that time. The FBI office in Ocala coordinated with the Levy County Sheriff’s Office, who located and arrested Joseph on October 10, 2013; she was booked into the Levy County Jail at that time. Both were transferred into the Marion County Jail on October 14, 2013.

This case has now been unsealed by court order, which has now made this information available for release. Due to the successful collaboration of OPD, the FBI and the SAO, two women who were profiting from the sale of young women are now behind bars.

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