Agents say Lakeland man turned teen girls into sex slaves

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LAKELAND, Fla. - Federal agents said a central Florida man hand-picked teens out of their neighborhoods and turned them into sex slaves.

Investigators said Michael Gallon was forcing girls as young as 14 to strip and have sex with men from his apartment in Lakeland.

According to a complaint file in the case, Gallon, 49, picked one of the girls up at a gas station.

"Human trafficking is happening in our own backyards and we don't realize it because they're hidden in plain sight," said Carissa Cutrell of the Department of Homeland Security.

Homeland Security agents arrested Gallon.

Newly released documents claim he forced them to strip and prostitute themselves at parties as nearby as DeLand and as far away as Kentucky.

According to investigators, one 16-year-old victim was picked up at a gas station and told to lie about her age, if anyone asked.

The Homeland Security complaint said Gallon would have the girls who were working for him meet at his house to be shipped to parties throughout Florida. It said he would also use rooms in his house force the girls to act as prostitutes with local men.

"They're basically modern-day slaves, said Cutrell.

Investigators said Gallon was caught after someone called in a tip to investigators.

Now that he is in jail, some of his alleged victims are speaking about what went on.

"These women are emotionally scarred, and some of them have those scars for the rest of their lives," said Cutrell.

Gallon is expected to plead to the charges in a few weeks in Tampa.