WASHINGTON — A Laurel man is charged with multiple counts of human trafficking and prostitution in a case involving two teen girls that spanned Maryland, Virginia and the District.
The case got its start after Howard County detectives who are focused on monitoring websites known for illicit ads, including Backpage, saw the photo of a young teen on a number of sites. An undercover detective reached out to the girl and later learned she was 13 years old.
“In doing so, (the detective) posed as a young teen who was inquiring about working with the girl to make money. Immediately the girl replied, ‘Absolutely, we’ll come pick you up at a public location,'” said Sherry Llewellyn, spokeswoman with Howard County Police.
Officers waited at a prearranged location in Columbia on July 22, and met the girl and the driver, later identified as Arthur Coleman.
Coleman, 46, was charged with multiple counts of human trafficking, prostitution, and other sex-related offenses.
“The 13-year-old was not the only girl in the car. He also had a 15-year-old and we believe now through investigation, he was arranging appointments for the girls to have sex for money,” Llewellyn said.
In the car Coleman was driving, police found condoms, cash and multiple cellphones.
The investigation revealed Coleman rented hotel rooms to facilitate the prostitution of young girls and drove the girls to appointments at different locations around D.C., Maryland, Virginia, police said.
Coleman took some of the money the girls made at these meetings, police said.
The teen girls are in good care, Llewellyn said, and are working with trained detectives and service organizations to try and rebuild their lives.
“Sometimes that means shelter services, sometimes it means counseling services. sometimes it means transportation in getting them back to where they belong,” Llewellyn said.
Coleman was being held without bond in the Howard County Detention Center.
Police are still investigating the scope of the ring and if any other victims were involved.
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