Montgomery County Police are looking for juvenile victims of prostitution after a 15-year-old victim led them to arrest two suspects.
According to County police spokesperson Rick Goodale, Prince George’s County police arrested 34-year-old Atuan Rogers in July and 19-year-old Dierra Thomas in June.
Police said the victim worked for Thomas and Rogers for 2.5 months and had sex with 288 clients before she told Rogers she “didn’t want to have sex anymore.” Rogers hit the victim in response.
Goodale said Rogers restricted the victim’s access to money and “the outside world.”
“One of the problems is, when you’re dealing with human trafficking, is that the suspects want to control the victims and they control the victim’s money, the suspect would give her money like an allowance. They take them everywhere (because) the victims rely on them for transportation,” Goodale said.
Goodale said county police launched an investigation in March, when the 15-year-old reached out to the police. According to polices, the victim said she had met Thomas, or “Ire,” in October of last year at the Hilton Hotel in Silver Spring.
“Detectives didn’t become aware of this case until March of this year. That’s when the victim came forward. She called the police and said ‘This is what happened to me,’” Goodale said.
Police said the victim and friends gathered at a hotel when Thomas approached her. Goodale said, according to the victim, Thomas asked if the victim “wanted to work.”
Police said the victim, Rogers and Thomas would go to Days Inn and the Travel Lodge motels on 13th Street in Silver Spring.
The victim said Rogers used fake IDs to book hotel rooms and Thomas used the name Selina Smith to book a reservation at one of the motels.
She also said Rogers would post ads on BackPages.com for prostitution, using bit coins to buy the ad space. She said Rogers would use fake pictures of another girl and used the name Rita.
He said though the victim only knew the suspects by their nicknames and even though she did not know the name of the street of their house, she led detectives to the suspects by describing the house where she met them.
“She did not really know the suspect’s real identity; she only knew them as ‘Rose Moe’ and ‘Ire’. She would try and remember where he was taking her and tried to get an idea of where they lived,” Goodale said.
Goodale also said detectives tried out several combinations of street names before finding the one that came close to what the victim recalled and the location of the house that matched the victim’s description.
He said after some surveillance, looking at property records for that house and the victim recognizing them in pictures, police issued an arrest warrant for Rogers and Thomas.
Prince George’s County police arrested Thomas at the Days Inn and Travel Lodge Motel on July 11 and arrested Rogers at the same place on July 29. PGPD then handed the suspects over to Montgomery County police.
Police charged Rogers with five counts of prostitution and charged Thomas with three counts of prostitution.
Goodale said based on how the suspects approached the victim back in October, investigators believe there may be other juvenile victims that haven’t spoken up yet.
“One of the ways they control the victims is they keep them isolated. So she may not have been aware that there were others,” Goodale said.
“There are certain victims that they look for. They look for certain types of people that they think may be are easy targets or easy victims they could use.”
Goodale said the way Thomas asked the victim to work for her and Rogers shows this isn’t the first time they have done this.
Police also said the victim told investigators Rogers told her he has worked as a pimp for 15 years.