TAMPA – Six women have been released and three men arrested for human trafficking during Super Bowl week, Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister told a press conference Thursday.
Two men are accused of forcing two women and a teenager into prostitution, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. The third is accused of arranging the payment of $ 150 to engage in sexual acts with a 17 year old teenager. All three have been trapped by undercover detectives.
These are the largest arrests highlighted by the sheriff’s office, which said it arrested a total of 75 people who were looking to “buy or sell sex” in the days leading up to Super Bowl 55 on Sunday.
The five women who were rescued were connected to the nonprofit Selah Freedom for advice and support, according to the sheriff’s office. The teenager receives help from the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The most serious allegations resulted in the arrest of two men on Friday: Alvin Lynch Jr., 34, and Scott Fitzgerald, 27. A search warrant obtained to search Fitzgerald’s phone explains how detectives constructed the case:
An undercover detective found the victim through an online advertisement and used the listed phone number to set up a meeting at a Clarion motel at 9331 E Adamo Drive, according to the warrant.
The detectives booked a room for the injection and began to monitor the hotel. It was around 4:20 p.m. when detectives said they noticed a Lexus sedan in the south side of the parking lot. Lynch was driving the vehicle, according to the warrant, Fitzgerald was in the front passenger seat and the victim was in the back seat.
The two men remained in the area and the victim received a text message to “check in” with them via SMS, according to the warrant. This is a common tactic of traffickers, according to the warrant, who provide security after transporting someone for the purpose of engaging in sex acts for payment.
The victim left the vehicle and proceeded to the hotel room, where detectives said they detained and questioned her. Then they went to detain Lynch and Fitzgerald. Lynch fled, according to the warrant, while Fitzgerald was arrested. Lynch was captured after browsing several properties. Detectives said they found a 9mm Taurus pistol on the floor of the car.
The victim told detectives that she recently lost her job, knew Fitzgerald and recently met Lynch. It was Lynch who solicited her to engage in sex trafficking or adult chat , she told detectives, posted ads on adult entertainment websites and handled communication with lawyers. Lynch kept half the money, she told detectives.
She also told detectives that the two men were trafficking other women in the area. Detectives located them and learned there was one. says the warrant.
One of the victims said that Fitzgerald obtained narcotics from Lynch without paying for them, according to the warrant, so the victim was forced to engage in sexual acts to pay off Fitzgerald’s debt.
In the other case, the sheriff’s office said Juan Cano Jr. was arrested Thursday after engaging online with an undercover detective posing as a human trafficker. Cano, 33, was arrested when he showed up at a local motel.
Lynch, Fitzgerald and Cano all face one count of human trafficking for the purpose of commercial sexual activity involving a person under the age of 18. two counts of resisting an officer without violence or drug charges. Fitzgerald faces two battery counts and one count of deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.