Cape Coral man among 79 arrested for human trafficking in Hillsborough County

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Jeffery Andre Rossi, 53. Credit: Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

A human trafficking bust saw 79 men arrested statewide. The bust happened in Hillsborough County, where deputies there call this sting “Operation Takedown.” One of the suspects arrested is from Southwest Florida.

With the help of Cape Coral Police Department Jeffery Andre Rossi, 53, was arrested.

Rossi is in custody at Lee County Jail Thursday, but he will soon be transported to Hillsborough County to answer to three charges.

Neighbors in Rossi’s community said they were concerned to learn about the arrest so close to home.

We knocked on the home where Rossi lives and spoke with his father, who didn’t want to appear on camera. He said he didn’t know the details of what happened.

Neighbors felt unsettled after not knowing why they saw police cars in their community.

“It is shocking to see, to have it so close right down the street,” Brian Kidder said.

Rossi is among the 79 people arrested in a sex trafficking sting out of Hillsborough County. The operation lasted for about one week leading up to Wrestlemania.

“It happens at the super bowl, large events, at Wrestlemania,” explained Rich Kolko, WINK News Safety & Security Specialist. “They go there, and then, law enforcement, knowing they’re going to be there, team up and usually are pretty successful putting a bunch of these people in jail.”

The arrest warrant shows Rossi told investigators he knew why they showed up at his house. Investigators also took his cell phone as evidence.

“They’re going to get all the people off the street as quickly as they can with whatever charges they can file at this time,” Koko said. “But it’s likely that additional investigation, following interviews, search warrants will lead to additional charges to those involved.”

Rossi faces charges including transmission of harmful material to a minor. We don’t know when Rossi will be transported to Hillsborough County to face those charges.

Parents say this incident hits close to home, and it’s a reminder to always talk with your kids about safety.

“I think the most important thing is just communication,” Kidder said. “Just always talking to them, talking to them about strangers and also online, being online, how to be safe.”

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