Collier County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Wade Williams has been honored by the Florida Attorney General’s Office for his work in the fight against human trafficking. State Attorney General Ashley Moody presented Sgt. Williams with the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award at the 2019 Human Trafficking Summit in Orlando on September 30. The award honors Floridians who took extraordinary measures to combat human trafficking.
Sheriff Kevin Rambosk praised Sgt. Williams for his hard work toward abolishing human trafficking and to helping provide aid to victims. “Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that affects Collier County,” Sheriff Rambosk said. “Sgt. Williams has worked tirelessly with our state and local partners for victims and our community to combat this evil. This honor is well deserved.”
Linda Oberhaus, chief executive officer of The Shelter For Abused Women & Children, nominated Sgt. Williams, who supervises the sheriff’s Human Trafficking Unit, for the award. She noted in her
nomination letter that since 2014, CCSO has initiated 98 human trafficking investigations, making 20 arrests and identifying 69 probable victims. Of those victims, 18 were juveniles. “Sgt. Williams makes a significant impact on the issues and challenges of human trafficking in Collier County through high-quality criminal investigations as demonstrated in the results of his case work, and by his sincere commitment to educating the public,” Oberhaus wrote.
Sgt. Williams said the award is the result of teamwork. “It’s the hard work of the members of the Human Trafficking Unit, other members of CCSO who work closely with our Human Trafficking Unit and our partnerships with organizations in the community like the Shelter for Abused Women & Children that resulted in this shared accomplishment,” he said. Sgt. Williams played an integral role in Operation Human Freedom in 2015. The multiagency investigation revealed a human trafficking
network involving multiple victims operating from Central to South Florida and resulted in 17 arrests.
He also played key roles in other major investigations that ultimately led to arrests and convictions, including:
– Gary Cherelus of East Naples who was convicted of sex trafficking women and sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2016
– Gregory Hines and Keith Lewis, who were sentenced earlier this year to 15 years and eight years in prison, respectively, in connection with a human trafficking case involving at least four women.
Sgt. Williams continues to lead ongoing investigations of major significance. He has further demonstrated his commitment to the community through his many presentations on human trafficking. He frequently conducts anti-human trafficking training for law enforcement officers and service providers. “He is sincerely motivated to educate and engage the public about the overwhelming statistics of human trafficking,” Oberhaus wrote in her nomination letter, noting that his presentations are so well received that they often lead to extended question and answer periods.
Sgt. Williams joined the Collier County Sheriff’s Office in September 2004 as a road patrol deputy.
In 2008 he transferred to the Criminal Investigations Division as a detective in the General Crimes
Bureau, where he was responsible for investigating felony crimes such as robbery, burglary and other violent crime. He was promoted in 2013 to the rank of sergeant and made the supervisor of the Special Crimes Bureau-Exploitation Section. He remains in charge of the Exploitation Section, where he is responsible for managing a team of specially trained detectives and civilians comprised of four units: the Sex Offender Unit, the Missing Persons Unit, the Human Trafficking Unit and the Internet Exploitation Unit.
He is responsible for supervising the Southwest Florida Human Trafficking Task Force for Collier County and is a member of the Florida Gulf Coast University Human Trafficking Advisory Council.
The Attorney General’s Office hosted the human trafficking summit, along with the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the Florida Department of Children and Families, and the University of Central Florida