Jonesboro motel involved in human trafficking investigation, emp - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro motel involved in human trafficking investigation, employee reacts

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -

A Region 8 woman accused of prostituting her 14- and 17-year-old relatives is behind bars after Arkansas State Police arrested her at a Little Rock motel.

However, months before 28-year-old Amber Johnson was arrested, Jonesboro police issued a warrant for her arrest for doing the same thing at multiple motels in Jonesboro.

Detective Jason Simpkins with the Jonesboro Police Department told Region 8 News the teens issued statements to JPD in February 2015.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the 14 year old was taken to Arkansas Children's Hospital for a vaginal discharge. While there, the teen told social workers that she and her sister had been prostituted in Jonesboro.

The affidavit states the teens, who had recently been placed in foster care, ran away from their foster home in November. The teens were missing for approximately two months.

During that time, the teens told police they were with their relative Amber Johnson. They said Johnson took them to Jonesboro and prostituted them at multiple motels in town.

"They reported she forced them to prostitute themselves in order to support her children and her," Detective Simpkins said.

The victims told Jonesboro police they were forced to have sex with four to six men a day and that Johnson was paid $40 to $50 for the men to have sex with the victims.

The victims told JPD that one of the motels they were taken to was the Deluxe Inn on Gee Street.

Investigators confirmed that Johnson had rented a room at the Deluxe Inn during that time frame.

Region 8 News spoke with an employee at the motel, who said they try to avoid renting rooms to certain people to keep bad things like this from happening.

"We do not even rent a room if we just have one person that we feel that this person might carry some problems," said the employee, who wished to be identified as Puneet.

Puneet said unfortunately, it's sometimes it's hard to judge the type of person who is renting a room from them, especially in this case.

"If you look like a couple of teenagers and their sister, you will not judge them," Puneet said. "But usually the only people that we can judge beforehand are the people who are on drugs. This situation, we were completely clueless."

Detective Simpkins said he fears this could have become an ongoing situation if Johnson hadn't been arrested.

Detective Simpkins explained that after the report was filed with their office in February, the girls went back to foster care. However months later, they ran away again. One of those teens was found with Johnson when she was busted for human trafficking.

"The main focus at this point is we have to get the victims safe, we have to get them to a safe place and out of that situation," Detective Simpkins said.

Detective Simpkins told Region 8 News that though the girls claimed the prostitution happened at multiple other Jonesboro motels, they were unable to confirm that Johnson had rented a room at those places.

Johnson faces a charge of trafficking of persons, a class Y felony.

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