The teenage foster kids called their rendezvous with men who paid for their affections “dates.” Sometimes they had several scheduled each day.
Their alleged handler, whom they called “E-Nasty,” or just “E,” would text the girls on the cell phones he provided them. “You’re gonna have some dates today,” he would say, a source told The Miami Herald.
On days where the girls had a hectic schedule, they’d be driven to school in the morning, but fail to enter. Instead, the teens would call or text their pimps to pick them up. “It was a perfect cover,” the source said. “People thought they were going to school.”
E-Nasty, police and prosecutors say, is 29-year-old Eric George Earle, the head of a group of pimps who preyed on teenage girls in foster care.
“He was the ringleader of this organization,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle, “the one who befriended the girls.”
Police and prosecutors say Earle — together with his stepbrother, Anturrel Nathaniel Dean, and two other men — operated a prostitution ring that employed foster children as sex workers. A teenager identified only as S.S. worked for the ring as a prostitute, and “recruited” other girls from her group home to work for the ring.
Earle; Dean, 30; 34-year-old David Zarifi and 65-year-old Willie Calvin Bivins were arrested early Monday. They face charges of racketeering, conspiracy and unlawful sex with underage girls.
At a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Fernández Rundle said the busted ring was part of an ongoing investigation into “predators” who lure vulnerable children into becoming sex workers. Already, the investigation had spawned 50 subpoenas and eight search warrants.
Fernández Rundle gave the girls’ customers a warning: “Watch out,” she said. “We’re coming to get you.”
“Make no doubt about it: these are businesses operating just below the surface in our community,” Fernández Rundle said. “You know what? They’re not operating any longer.”
Also caught up in the investigation, though not involved with the ring Earle allegedly operated, was a Department of Children & Families child abuse investigator, 46-year-old Jean LaCroix, records show.
DCF administrators placed LaCroix on paid administrative leave and seized his government-issued cell phone after one of the girls involved in the ring, identified as M.D., told police she also had maintained a lengthy sexual relationship with LaCroix, who investigated her case when she was placed in foster care, records show.
“The victim advised that while in school she would call or text [LaCroix] and [he] would arrange to pick her up from school and take her to his residence where they would engage in consensual sexual intercourse,” a May search warrant request says.
LaCroix became involved with M.D in September 2011, DCF Regional Administrator Esther Jacobo told the Miami-Dade Police Department. His DCF cell phone showed “considerable phone communication between [LaCroix] and the victim’s cellular phones for several months after October 2011,” records say.
Even after his bosses at DCF took away his cell phone, LaCroix continued to call the teenage foster child with his personal phone, police said in a May search warrant obtained by The Miami Herald.