An Unspeakable Crime Thrives In This Industry – With Employees’ Help

Every parent lives with the fear of their child coming into contact with a predator.

We teach them from the earliest age possible to beware of strangers, and as they get older, we monitor their online activity and warn them of the dangers lurking out there.

But this nightmare exists for many parents, and now a massive lawsuit is underway involving companies who should have been watching for the warning signs.

Sex trafficking of teens and young adults is a sickening big business venture around the world.

Children and vulnerable young women – and men – are targeted online and lured away, or even followed in stores and restaurants where someone within the trafficking ring earns their trust and brings them into this dark underworld.

The Department of Homeland Security has been working for years to curb sex trafficking practices in the U.S. and has focused on one industry in particular.

The hospitality industry is a hotbed of activity in the horrific world of sex traffickers.  

As you can imagine, trafficking rings want to stay under the radar and often choose to use low-budget hotel chains as a base in which to meet and plan, and also a place to engage in sexual activities with their victims.

Now, several major chains have been hit with lawsuits for ignoring – and in some cases assisting – sex traffickers who frequented some of their locations in the southern part of the U.S., particularly Georgia and Louisiana.

The lawsuits claim that over a period of six years between 2010 and 2016 that employees of these hotels either accepted bribes to ignore what they knew to be sex trafficking activity, or they ignored suspicious activity that they are required by law to report.

Four anonymous women, two of whom were minors at the time, have come forward to testify that some employees of these hotels were even paid to keep watch while the women were victimized on hotel property.

Attorneys for the victims are working to shine a spotlight on the frightening truth that many budget hotels are creating a safe haven for sex traffickers in our country.

According to attorney Jonathan Tonge who spoke with Fox News on the cases, hotels know that sex trafficking is going on; they participate in it by enabling criminals, and they make a profit by doing so.

When given the choice of leaving a room unrented or filling it for the night, these budget hotels will turn next to no one away.

The lawsuits were filed against the corporate offices of locations in Georgia and Louisiana, including Red Roof Inn, La Quinta, and Extended Stay America.

The attorneys also note the shocking nature of the epidemic of hotel involvement in sex trafficking – both in the number of occurrences gone unreported and the amount of years these activities have been allowed to carry on – especially in the specific locations mentioned in the suits.

In some cases, sex traffickers would come and go up to twenty times a day – knowing they were perfectly “free” to go about their horrific business.

The victims’ statement are shocking.  One woman in Chamblee, Georgia stated that she tried to escape from an Extended Stay, but a hotel employee informed the sex trafficker who was holding her hostage.  

She was brought back to the room and beaten.

At a La Quinta in Alpharetta, Georgia, a woman was beaten so badly for hours by her kidnappers that it left blood covering the carpets and walls.  And no one at the hotel said a word.

And most disturbing, employees and corporate officers of Red Roof Inn knew that sex trafficking was rampant in their locations, particularly in Smyrna, Georgia.

In fact, evidence in the case includes a sign posted on the check-in window at this locations stating, “No refunds after 15 minutes.”  

They appeared to be fine with illegal sexual activities and criminal kidnapping going on in their location, as long as they received the full room rate each day.

Excuses from corporate officers include the fact that some of these hotels are independently owned and operated franchises and, therefore, corporate is “hands-off.”  

But that’s not what corporate policy reflects.  Each location is supposed to follow corporate rules and regulations in regard to national industry standards.

Spokespersons for other chains have made statements condemning any type of involvement by employees in helping to facilitate sex trafficking at their locations, but it appears many turned the other way as long as their financial bottom-line was being met.

The Department of Homeland Security has devoted a page on their website to informing hotel employees of their duties in reporting sex trafficking, as well as the signs they should be looking for on their properties.

Red flags include seeing guests — mainly women — who are constantly followed or monitored, cannot provide their own identification, and have to ask others for money or permission to do something.

Other warning signs include women who are not dressed appropriately for their age or dressed poorly when their “companions” are well-dressed, women who are not practicing proper hygiene measures, look ill or malnourished, or who look away, don’t respond when spoken to, or appear fearful.

Housekeeping staff can also keep an eye out for guests who request additional items for their rooms but do not allow them to enter, the presence of multiple computers or cell phones in the room, or someone who has booked an extended stay but appears to have little luggage and rarely leaves the room.

While the lawsuits in Georgia and Louisiana are way past due, the explosive local news coverage may bring hope to victims of sex trafficking that everyone present in and around hotels will be more aware of what to look for.

And if you’re a guest and see anything suspicious, like the above red flags, report it immediately to police.

You just may save a young woman’s life.

What do you think of the horrific fact that employees of several hotel chains were purposely allowing sex trafficking to occur at their locations in order to line their pockets?  Leave us your comments.