Crime

He beat them, forced them to have sex for money and fled, cops say

Johnnie Pigatt’s current Miami-Dade Corrections mugshot
Johnnie Pigatt’s current Miami-Dade Corrections mugshot

A year after skipping town as police were closing in on him, a Miami Gardens man accused of beating, raping and forcing women to have sex with strangers for money was arrested by federal agents in Miramar.

Johnnie Randell Wilson Pigatt, 34, was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals on Wednesday night, without incident. He was charged with human trafficking and coercing two women into prostitution.

Pigatt remained jailed in the Miami-Dade Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center Thursday. No bond had been set.

The arrest warrant for Pigatt paints a portrait of a controlling brute who took advantage of drug-addicted vulnerable women and profited from them.

According to the warrant, police learned that two women were being held against their will at Pigatt’s Miami Gardens home in late November 2017. That’s when, police said, they received a phone call from a man in Pennsylvania claiming to be the boyfriend of one of the women.

He told police that his girlfriend managed to contact him through a social media site and that “she was being held captive, was being raped and forced to prostitute,” Pigatt’s arrest warrant claims.

When a Miami Gardens officer got to Pigatt’s home at 121 NW 188th St., she knocked on the door. There was no response. The officer said that when she called out the woman’s name, a 26-year-old woman carrying her belongings made her way out of the home crying, “Help me. Get me out of here.”

Back at the police station, Pigatt’s arrest warrant says, the victim told police she was held against her will and forced to have sex for money at small motels along Biscayne Boulevard. She also told police she was forced to give the money to Pigatt, who would beat her and sexually assault her to get her to comply.

The woman told police that Pigatt found her and another woman leaving a drug rehab center and offered them room and board. He also provided them heroin and cocaine, the woman said, in large amounts.

After watching Pigatt’s home and determining they had enough information to make an arrest, police descended on the property in late November. Once inside, police found the other victim and two women who worked for Pigatt.

Pigatt, however, was long gone.

The two women working for Pigatt were taken into custody and charged with human trafficking.

Police said that under Pigatt’s orders, Destinee Thompson, 21, and Courtney Robinson, 25, coordinated the activities of the two victims. They placed advertisements for their service on the website Backpage.com. And, police said, the women collected money and made sure the abducted women were fed and taken care of.

“They’re basically just there to manage the girls who are being held captive,” said Miami Gardens Police Capt. Diana Hedrick.

Miami Gardens police obtained a warrant for Pigatt’s arrest last December after it was determined he fled Miami Gardens after police raided his home. Miami Gardens police are working in coordination with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Human Trafficking Task Force to try and prosecute Pigatt.

Police said they are concerned others may have been held against their will by Pigatt and they’re asking anyone with information to contact Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.

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