October 24, 2018, Orlando, FL
A 26-year-old has been arrested for selling two minors for sex in Orlando. Yankopoly Saint Pierre (right) is said to have given the runaways drugs and alcohol while posting ads for prostitution online. Saint Pierre arranged for paying customers to exploit the juveniles at the Ramada hotel on Jamaican Court, just off of International Drive.
Law enforcement arrested Saint Pierre in the hotel parking lot late Monday night. He faces charges of human trafficking of the minors and is being held on bond.
The sad reality is this story is one we hear far too often. Runaways are extremely vulnerable and traffickers know it. With nowhere to go and no money, traffickers act like heroes who offer a place to stay and food to eat. However, none of it comes for free. Victims are sexually exploited by countless buyers who pay the trafficker to rape them.
If threats of violence are not enough to make their victims compliant, traffickers often use highly addictive drugs to gain more control over their victims.
Fox 35 Orlando interviewed our Founder and CEO, Tomas Lares, about human trafficking in the hospitality industry. It is extremely important that we educate hotel and motel employees. “Making sure they know what signs to look for, the red flags of human trafficking and then know how to report effectively,” Lares said in the interview.
This is why we are working diligently to partner with those in the hospitality industry who want to stop human trafficking. They are on the front lines and can play a critical role in identifying and responding to cases of trafficking. Their involvement can literally save lives.
We are grateful these children are now safe. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as the first few weeks of the healing journey are often quite difficult.
by Blair Pippin
Creative & Prevention Director • Florida Abolitionist