‘A local hero’: How an alert hotel owner saved two girls from sex trafficking in Florida

Credit: Palm Beach County Sheriffs Office

An alert and observant employee at a Florida hotel has been recognized as a “local hero” by law enforcement for helping save two girls who were being sex trafficked – and led to the arrests of a man and a woman, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office were called to the Lago Motor Inn in Lake Worth, Florida on Sunday morning, Aug. 6, after the hotel employee stopped by a room and noticed two young girls sitting on a bed with a man – later identified as Ricardo Flores, 44 – and a condom next to him.

The employee contacted 911 because he was suspicious of how young the girls appeared to be and their “demeanor,” a news release said.

Palm Beach deputies said their investigation revealed that a woman – later identified as Maria Eugenia Barrios Calero, 44 – had arranged a “date” between Flores and the two girls at the hotel.

“The swift intervention of the hotel clerk, who noticed the young victims and alerted authorities, played a pivotal role in their rescue,” the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.

Flores was arrested and booked into jail on two counts of human trafficking. Calero was arrested and booked into jail on three counts of human trafficking.

Flores admitted to paying each of the girls $200, but denied wanting to have sex with them, according to the arrest report.

Calero admitted to knowing both girls were underage, but denied setting up “dates” for them, the report said.