Human traffickers force 8 Cuban migrants into prostitution, police say

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Human traffickers coerced eight Cuban migrants into prostitution in Florida as part of a “modern-day” slavery plot, Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said on Monday.

Deputies arrested Amet Roman Maqueira De La Cal, 34, and Rosalia Leonard Garcia, 29, on Thursday in Tampa and rescued the women, ages 18 to 24, who lived under the threat of violence, Chronister said.

“All of the trapped women were working as prostitutes, and strippers and forced to perform other types of sex acts to pay off their debt of $60,000 each, which is what the smuggling cost,” Chronister said.

Five of the women were living in one room, three in another and they all shared one bathroom, Chronister said.

“This is one of the worst trafficking cases that I have seen. It hits on every element when we are training law enforcement and prosecutors across the state in what to look for in one of these cases,” Moody said.

Leonard Garcia and Maqueira De La Cal are facing 47 charges, including human smuggling, sexual battery, false imprisonment, prostitution, and the unlawful use of a two-way device.

Selah Freedom, a nonprofit organization, stepped in to help them find housing.

ABC News affiliate WFTS Tampa Bay contributed to this report.

About the Authors:

Five-time Emmy Award-winning newscaster Calvin Hughes anchors WPLG-Local 10's 4, 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.