Palm Beach Hotel Clerk Busts Human Trafficking Operation
A sex trafficking operation was busted at a Palm Beach County hotel this week thanks to the vigilance of a hotel clerk. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office responded to the employee’s call and arrested Richard Flores, 44, and Maria Barrios Calero, 44, at the Lago Motor Inn in Lake Worth Beach on Sunday. Two young girls were rescued.
The arrests come just months after Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill to clamp down on human trafficking.
Caleros is accused of arranging a “date” between Flores and the two victims, who are minors.
“Initial fact-finding by detectives on scene confirmed the commercial sex trafficking of two minor victims,” the Palm Beach County Police Department stated in a press release. “The two minor victims, along with the two suspects were transported to a local substation for interviews.”
Police credited the hotel clerk with the bust after he discovered the victims sitting on a bed in one of the rooms, with a condom nearby.
“The witness stated he called police after observing how young the two females appeared to be and their demeanor… Consent to search the room was provided by the hotel clerk which resulted in locating the condom on top of the bed.” ~ Palm Beach County Police Department
Both suspects faced a judge Monday morning. They are charged with human trafficking. A probable cause affidavit described one of the defendants as a “vengeful” person who expressed concerns that they would be deported, according to a report by WPBF.
Nicole Bishop, the Director of Victim Services for Palm Beach County, later told the outlet that human trafficking is a much larger problem than people realize. “Palm Beach County is actually the third in the state as far as reports of Human Trafficking go,” she said. “And Florida is the third in the nation in Human Trafficking.”
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