Moises Escoto, a 36-year-old youth pastor, and Joel Lutz, a 38-year-old registered foster parent, both from Florida, were arrested as they were allegedly soliciting minors for lewd activity on social media and human trafficking.
The sheriff’s office said its human trafficking team launched an investigation after a mother reported finding disturbing content on her 16-year-old’s phone.
Investigations Into Human Trafficking
Investigators discovered that Escoto contacted the victim two years ago on a chat and meetup app called Sniffies. After making contact with the teenager, Escoto purportedly asked for lascivious photos and videos in exchange for money and gifts.
According to investigators, Escoto was also secretly meeting with the victim and engaged in lewd acts. He was a youth pastor at Iglesia de Cristo Misionera Mahanaim Church.
Similarly, deputies also found Lutz to engage in such acts with a minor he found on the Sniffies app in exchange for money. He is now booked for human trafficking.
“It is absolutely disgusting that these two men, who were placed in positions of mentorship and trust with children in our community, used online apps to seek out and victimize our youth,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, we know that predators are constantly on the hunt to ruin the innocence of our community. I urge parents to know where and what their children are doing online at all times. We will not stop searching for these deviants wherever they may be, and we ask for parents and the community to help us protect our precious children.”
Escoto and Lutz are facing charges of human trafficking for commercial sexual activity, lewd or lascivious battery, use of computer services or devices to solicit certain illegal acts, traveling to meet a minor after using computer services or devices to solicit certain illegal acts, use of computer services for lewd or lascivious exhibition defendant over 18, the transmission of harmful material to minor, unlawful use of two-way communications device, unlawful sexual activity with minor and other charges.