Joel Lutz and Moises Escoto

Florida Youth Pastor & Foster Parent Busted for Alleged Human Trafficking of Children

Two Florida men are facing charges after police say they were both involved in a trafficking scheme involving minors.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, youth pastor Moises Escoto, 36, and foster parent Joel Lutz, 38 were arrested on human trafficking and related charges earlier this month. Escoto, at the time of his arrest, was a pastor at the Iglesia de Cristo Misionera Mahanaim Church in Tampa.

An investigation began after the mother of a 16-year-old child contacted police and said she found  “disturbing content” on her daughter’s phone, Tampa Bay Times reports.

Detectives then reportedly uncovered that Escoto contacted the victim two years prior on the Sniffies app, where he allegedly solicited her for explicit content in exchange for money and gifts.

Detectives said they also uncovered that Lutz allegedly met a minor on the same app, then allegedly paid the victim for sex.

The defendants are now facing charges that include:

  • Human trafficking for commercial sexual activity
  • Use of computer services or devices to solicit illegal acts
  • Unlawful sex with a minor
  • Lewd or lascivious battery

Both suspects are being held at the Hillsborough County jail Escoto’s bail was set at $138,500 while Lutz’s bail was set at $280,500.

Check back for updates.

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[Feature Photo: Escoto (l) and Lutz (r)/Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]