Victims may have case in Human Trafficking Operation
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Victims may have case in Human Trafficking Operation

human trafficking lawyer

A pair of underage girls may have the right to file personal injury claims against the owners/operators of a Lake Worth Beach motel due to inadequate security, which led the girls to become victims of a human trafficking ring.

Tip from motel employee leads to arrests

On Sunday, August 6, 2023, a worker at the Lago Motor Inn on South Dixie Highway entered a room where he observed a man on a bed with two girls who appeared to be under the age of 18. Their young appearance and demeanor was a red flag to the employee, who immediately called law enforcement.

After arriving at the motel, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested two individuals. Alleging that Ricardo Flores paid the girls $200 each while seeking sexual favors, they arrested Flores on two counts of human trafficking. Deputies also arrested a female, Maria Barrios Calero, alleging that the 44-year-old West Palm Beach resident arranged a “date” between Flores and the girls. Because of their age, authorities have not disclosed the names of the victims.

Victims feared deportation if they did not cooperate

The situation arose on Saturday, August 5, after Maria Calero picked up the girls from their homes without parental consent. One of the victims told investigators Calero engaged in prostitution and tried to teach the girls how to obtain clients. The girl said she did what Calero asked because she was afraid of being deported back to her home country of Honduras.

Calero then took the victims to El Chino, a bar in Lake Worth. It was here that Ricardo Flores met the girls and decided to rent a room at the Lago Motor Inn. When the victims told Calero they did not want to have sex with anyone, she told them they were only going to “scam” Flores for his money, then leave.

Both defendants denied trafficking allegations

After being taken into custody, Flores denied he intended to have sex with the victims, and Calero denied setting the girls up with Flores or any other men. Arrest reports do not indicate if the girls were returned to their families or taken into custody by the Department of Children and Families after the arrests.

Human trafficking a rising problem in South Florida

In 2017, Palm Beach County created a task force to investigate human trafficking and raise awareness of this heinous crime. Since formation of the task force, more than 30 individuals have been convicted of the crime in both state and federal courts. The task force works in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Coalition of the Palm Beaches, which was established in 2005. This public/private partnership works with a wide range of community organizations to prevent human trafficking in Palm Beach County by building partnerships, identifying resources, and providing education and outreach to the community.

Victims may have case Against Lago Motor Inn

Authorities refer to human trafficking as “the exploitation of another person for labor, domestic servitude or commercial sexual activity through the use of fraud, force or coercion.” The victims may have a case against the Lago Motor Inn if it was complicit in the human trafficking crimes, and in aiding the defendants. Human trafficking is a complex situation, involving many different causes. In most cases no single group or individual can be held responsible for the crime. Instead, responsibility can lie with several groups depending on the circumstances. In general, any person or entity who knowingly benefits from or facilitates human trafficking can be held liable – criminally and civilly.

In this case, the owners or management of the motel may be held liable for damages if they’d been made aware that individuals were using their properties to facilitate human trafficking activities to exploit victims through coercion and force. If the motel played an active role in the exploitation of the victims, they could be considered complicit in the process, and potentially liable for monetary compensation to the victims.

GOLDLAW Can Help!

If you have been the victim of sex trafficking, or any type of sexual abuse, we encourage you to report it and seek help. Palm Beach County Victim Services and Certified Rape Crisis Center victim advocates are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be reached at 561-833-7273. You can also contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

GOLDLAW has a team of attorneys dedicated to helping victims of sexual assault and human trafficking. Though it may not always be in the headlines, human trafficking is very real problem in the United States, and especially here in Florida. If you have been a victim, it is IMPORTANT to seek legal assistance as soon as possible so that you can understand your rights and options under the law! Contact GOLDLAW today at 561-222-2222 to speak with an experienced attorney!