A 21-year-old man was arrested Thursday on a allegation that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl who appears to have been a victim of sex trafficking at a Federal Highway motel.
The woman told authorities she was being held against her will at the Homing Inn by Marco Orrego, a suburban Boynton Beach man who was arrested in May and charged with human trafficking.
Orrego, 31, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in November after he pleaded guilty to sex trafficking involving a minor and producing child pornography stemming from another case at the same motel. He was one of the first people arrested this year under a crackdown on human trafficking in Palm Beach County.
To date, at least 12 men have been arrested in Palm Beach County this year on charges of human trafficking — he use of fraud, force or coercion to exploit another person for sex, labor or domestic servitude. Some have called it modern-day slavery. Orrego pleaded guilty in federal court. A Palm Beach County jury also convicted a 23-year-old man on human trafficking last month.
On Thursday, police took Sylister Lopez Jones into custody in connection to an investigation that began in August. The alleged victim, who was 16 when she contacted police, told investigators that Jones was one of several men who showed up at the motel, on Federal Highway south of Woolbright Road, to have sex with her, answering an ad that had been placed online.
A Homing Inn manager has denied that sex trafficking takes place at the motel.
Neither jail nor court records list a current address for Jones, He was being held without bail Friday at the Palm Beach County Jail. In the event he is released, Jones is to have no contact with the alleged victim or witnesses, a judge ordered Friday. He was also ordered to surrender any weapons to have no contact with co-defendants.
The teen told investigators she did not know if Jones knew how old she was and that he did not ask for her age. At first, she said, she refused Jones’ advances.
“Come on. Let’s do this. I didn’t come here for nothing,” she quoted him as saying in the police report.
According to the arrest report, Jones was linked to teen’s hotel room through through DNA testing. She also identified him through a photo lineup.
The age of consent in Florida is 18 years old, according to Florida Statutes. People between the ages of 16 and 17 can give consent to a partner to the age of 23. Anyone 24 years old or older commits a felony if he or she engages in sexual activity with someone under the age of 18.