Hollywood, MD – See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. This is what law enforcement agencies face as they attempt to battle one of the most hidden forms of organized crime–sex and human trafficking in Maryland. Over the past few years, sex and human trafficking has continually made headline news.

Wednesday Oct. 5, police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said police got a tip about human trafficking and prostitution at the Jessup Red Roof Inn. After further investigation, detectives recognized the two women and were aware the hotel had been used for prostitution solicitation, police said. Suspects were identified at Prince Q. Torres and Anthony Kenneth Wilson.

After watching as Torres, Wilson and the two women entered and later left the hotel room, police said detectives found Torres had posted prostitution ads on the web site and took the money they were paid. The women, 28 and 29 years old, were also being physically assaulted by Torres, police said.

The two men are facing human trafficking and drug charges. Prince Q. Torres, 25 of District Heights, was charged with human trafficking, prostitution, assault, and a handgun violation. Anthony Kenneth Wilson, 39 of Baltimore, was also charged with conspiring in human trafficking as well as drug distribution.

Maryland is uniquely situated and has become a “hot spot” for human trafficking. Maryland’s central location has facilitated its development as both a ‘pass-through state’ and destination for traffickers. I-95 is one of the many highways that is heavily traveled to connect victims to major east coast cities such as New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.

Human trafficking does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone, no matter the race, age or gender. Reports of various types of human trafficking are being received, such as sex, labor, domestic and sex/labor trafficking. Maryland courtrooms have turned into a center stage for female victims to speak up and tell their chilling story. Read one below:

One victim’s story: R.L., a female immigrant in her early 20’s with no papers, a third-grade education, and a baby girl, entrusted her life to a man she met at a restaurant in Prince George County who told her he would take care of them. Instead, he beat her and threatened to harm her daughter to force her into prostitution. She now is chief program officer at TurnAround, a nonprofit social services agency in Towson that works with trafficking victims.

How does one fight modern day slavery? In 2007, the Human Trafficking Task Force was formed in Maryland in response to the growing number of incidents at truck stops, airports, rest areas and bus stations in the state. Surveillance has exposed significant indication of trafficking incidents at these locations around the state.

Seventy percent of human trafficking occurs in truck stops, according to reports from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC).  Maryland passed legislation requiring all truck stops, rest areas and bus stations in the state to post hotline information for the NHTRC, in response to the rise.

On Monday, Dec. 19, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced is amending its regulations governing the requirements and procedures for victims of human trafficking seeking T non-immigrant status. The Secretary of Homeland Security may grant T non-immigrant status (commonly known as a “T visa”) to aliens who are or were victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons, who are physically present in the U.S. on account of such trafficking, who have complied (unless under 18 years of age or unable to cooperate due to trauma) with any reasonable request by a Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency (LEA) for assistance in an investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking in persons or the investigation of other crimes involving trafficking, and who would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if removed from the U.S.

Contact Shertina Mack at s.mack@TheBayNet.com