BRANDON, Fla. – A Florida man is facing hundreds of charges for various sex crimes including possession of child and animal porn, and most recently added, sex with minors.
In an investigation that went on for nearly a year, teamHCSO detectives first became aware of Austin Drue Hoffman, 28, of Brandon, during an undercover operation meant to identify adults attempting to exploit children online.
In May 2022, an undercover detective posing as a juvenile online made virtual contact with Hoffman, who lied about his age, saying he was 19. For several days, Hoffman asked for nude images of the juvenile decoy and propositioned himself in an attempt to engage in sexual acts. This led to his first arrest on May 19, 2022, and subsequent charges of:
- Use computer services/devices to solicit certain illegal acts while misrepresenting age
- Unlawful use of two-way communication device
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“This is why we do this kind of operation; we want to find the predators before they find our children,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “Little did we know, this would be the beginning of a much darker, troubling discovery into the suspect’s disgusting, secret life.”
During the arrest, deputies seized a cell phone belonging to Hoffman, and a search warrant was issued to investigate the phone’s contents. Over the following months, forensic technicians and detectives worked on obtaining the information on the electronic device. They discovered over 100 videos of sexual child abuse, including infants, computer-generated images of child sexual abuse material and videos of bestiality. It was also discovered that Hoffman had shared over 100 videos of sexual abuse material with other people.
On December 1, 2022, deputies and detectives with teamHCSO’s Human Trafficking Section and the Internet Predator Unit obtained an arrest warrant. They took into custody Austin Hoffman at his home on the 1400 block of Village Court in Brandon, FL. He was charged with:
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- Out of state transmission of child pornography by electronic device – X100
- Possession of child pornography 10 or more images and content of images – X100
- Possession of child pornography realistic computer-generated videos of child pornography -X4
- Film, Distribute, or possess image or video of sexual activity with an animal – X2
The investigation was not over for detectives. While implementing a residential search warrant, investigators found inside the home multiple electronic devices with additional child abuse material.
After his second arrest and while he was still in custody, detectives learned that Hoffman was engaging in sexual activities with juveniles.
Three victims were found and able to give detectives more information as to the illegal activities and victimization they endured by Hoffman. Additional charges include:
- Possession of child pornography
- Promotion of a sexual performance by a child
- Traveling to meet minor after using comp services/devices to solicit certain illegal acts
- Unlawful use of two-way communications device
- Unlawful sexual activity with a minor
- Transmission of harmful material to minor
- Use of computer services or devices to solicit certain illegal acts
“Our hearts go out to the victims of the suspect who were used in his disturbing criminal acts,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “These kinds of investigations are not easy for our detectives, who are subjected to the worst things a person can see, and then must go home and live a normal life in our communities. They are the heroes who sacrifice in order to find and rescue the victims of these predators, and work to ensure they have a chance at justice within our legal system.”
Austin Hoffman is currently still in jail with a $3,080,500.00 dollar bond.
The investigation continues, and anyone with information about this case or other instances of child exploitation are urged to come forward and contact HCSO at 813-247-8200.
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