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#minorsextrafficking | Vero Beach man, Palm Bay woman charged with human trafficking of underaged girls


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MELBOURNE — An Indian River County man and a Palm Bay woman have been arrested after investigators said the pair recruited underage girls — including at least two from a group home — to perform sex acts for cash at a West Melbourne hotel.

Marc Phillips Dinkels, 33, of Vero Beach, and Taylor Kathleen Brandt, 19, of Palm Bay, were arrested last week as part of a joint investigation led by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

One of the girls was a 14-year-old in foster care, court records show.

“Predators who take advantage of children like this have no place in our communities, and I hope this arrest sends a warning to anyone else who might seek to exploit Florida’s youth,” FDLE Acting Commissioner Mark Glass said in a prepared statement Sunday.

Related: Merritt Island man jailed on charges of kidnapping, human trafficking

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Dinkels was charged with two counts of human trafficking and one count each of lewd and lascivious battery, use of a child in sexual performance, unlawful sexual activity with certain minors, unlawful use of a two-way communication device to facilitate the commission of a felony, and battery, reports show.

Brandt was charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery and one count each of human trafficking, use of a child in a sexual performance, and use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony.

Dinkels and Brandt were being held Sunday at the Brevard County Jail. The case was forwarded to a conflict attorney’s office but has not been assigned to any defense attorneys, records show.

Florida continues to have among the highest incidences of human trafficking in the U.S., with half of the victims under the age of 18, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The investigation began after a foster care worker at an Oviedo group home spotted a young girl laughing over something on her cellphone with another juvenile at the facility, FDLE said.

The worker then saw the cellphone, which was displaying images of the girl smoking, drinking, and consuming LSD, court records show. One of the videos was also of the teen and another woman — identified by investigators as Brandt — kissing, reports show.

Brandt, who operated an OnlyFans page that offered explicit sexual photos and videos for money, later told a friend on Instagram that she made “hella money,” for one of the sex acts performed for Dinkels, reports show. Dinkels described himself as a “sugar daddy,” and paid out hundreds of dollars for the contact, reports show. He also told at least one of the girls that he had cancer, court records show.

Investigators reviewed the video, along with text messages about pricing for sex acts and photographs, and determined that the initial contact took place in Palm Bay.

Investigators said Brandt had met Dinkels on a social media group for people with certain mental health conditions and had made arrangements for sexual activities for cash if he could record the sessions, reports show.

In January, Dinkels picked up Brandt and two companions in Palm Bay and then checked into a Courtyard by Marriot, a West Melbourne hotel, reports show.

He later denied to investigators knowing that some of the girls were underage. State investigators said Dinkels recorded several of the incidents.

“This sick criminal duo used social media to target and lure young girls for sex, including a 14-year-old from a foster home. I am thankful for the multiple law enforcement agencies that investigated this case, and I look forward to my Statewide Prosecutors securing convictions for these loathsome predators,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a news release.

The investigation involved the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, West Melbourne Police department, FDLE, and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

“Anyone who is evil enough to harm a child needs to be locked behind bars where they can never harm another child in our community or anywhere else on the planet,” Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said in a prepared statement.

It’s unclear if Dinkels and Brandt have attorneys representing them as of Monday,

J.D. Gallop is a Criminal Justice/Breaking News Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Gallop at 321-917-4641 or jgallop@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @JDGallop.

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This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Vero Beach man, Palm Bay woman charged in human trafficking case





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