Federal agents in Colorado are eliciting the help of motel and hotel workers as part of their battle against sex trafficking, saying front desk clerks and housekeepers are on
the fight's front lines.
Victims advocates for the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations divisions in Denver spoke Monday to a group of lodging employees stressing how important a role they can play.
"What we know is that people who are sex-trafficked spend at least some time in a hotel," said one HSI advocate, who asked that her name not be used.
Sex trafficking cases across the Denver area have played out in lodges, including a ring that made headlines last week for exploiting three children and at least woman over the span of many months.
Brock Franklin and a group of six others allegedly used hotels and motels as their place of illicit business to sell the sexual services of three young girls and at least one woman.
One Jefferson County prosecutor who handles sex trafficking cases said metro-area front desk clerks are among her most important witnesses.
A young woman who grew up in Denver and was trafficked in Las Vegas after running away from home spoke at Monday's presentation about how much of her exploitation happened in hotels. She explained that her trafficker forced her to memorize the layouts of different lodges.
"There's engineers, housekeepers that can be trained," said Diana Burdette-Lincoln, director of sales and marketing for the Hyatt House in Broomfield. "There are signs in rooms."
Victims advocates said workers should look for a number of signs that could point to trafficking, including excessive foot traffic in and out of rooms, young girls accompanied by older men or patrons who pay for extended stays but have few possessions.