Task force takes aim at forced prostitution in central Florida



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - 9 investigates first exposed the number of arrests for prostitution at local hotels that could shut the places down.

Now a task force aimed at stopping people from being forced into prostitution in central Florida Is working with hotels to rescue victims.

Just recently a woman was rescued after she was seen running through a hotel lobby begging workers to help her. Police said she had been forced into prostitution at the hotel.

Channel 9's Karla Ray has learned that training being offered to dozens of hotel workers in the Orlando area is aimed at spotting those victims and getting them help sooner.

Rosny Jeanbaptiste and Bria Jones are accused of holding a woman against her will inside beating her and forcing her to have sex for money at a hotel in the International Drive area.

"The traffickers and or pimps can hide victims here because we don't know who's visiting right we don't know who is who," said Tomas Lares, with the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force.

Lares said hotels are used to hold victims being transported from city to city. And used as locations to force victims into prostitution.

"They've been manipulated. They're being controlled. There's a lot of fear of harm and violence," said Lares.

It's a problem no one from the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association wanted to speak to Ray about on Friday, but she learned that the group was the first to go through frontline training to spot victims.

Hotel workers were taught to look for multiple people crammed into small spaces, to listen for scripted or rehearsed answers, to spot signs of physical abuse and to identify those who seem submissive or fearful of the people they are with.

"A slave is a slave no matter who it is. That's why we're here," said Lares.

Lares said he will meet with county leaders this month to expand the training to other businesses.