Local deacon caught in Florida human trafficking sting

In this photo from the Indian River County Sheriff's Office, Peter George McBride, 78, of Vero Beach, Fla. is charged with soliciting prostitution. He is among 173 suspects arrested in a human trafficking sting in the Vero Beach, Fla. area. (Indian River County Sheriff's Office via Newswatch Group)

VERO BEACH, Fla. – A local deacon with the Alexandria-Cornwall Catholic Diocese is among 173 people charged in a human trafficking sting in Florida.

State police authorities issued warrants after a six month investigation into human traffickers, who were luring vulnerable women into massage parlours where they were coerced into working as prostitutes.

The 173 suspects are facing various charges from human trafficking to racketeering and soliciting prostitution.

Peter McBride, 78, was arrested last week and charged. He is accused of soliciting sex at a Vero Beach spa – one of the five spas in Indian River County that were part of the investigation, according to Treasure Coast News.

He has been released on $1,000 bond.

McBride was visiting and had received permission to minister at the local church while he was in town. That has been revoked and the Canadian diocese was immediately notified of the situation, the paper reported.

Vero Beach is about 250 kilometers north of Miami, Fla. on the state’s east coast.

Alexandria-Cornwall Deacon Pierre Aube issued a statement to Cornwall media Friday morning, stating that Peter McBride has been immediately suspended from the ministry and the case has been referred to the Committee for Safe Environment.

McBride, who is listed on the St. Peter’s Parish website as a deacon, spends his winters in Vero Beach, Fla.

The Alexandria-Cornwall Catholic Diocese says it won’t comment further on the case.

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