Two men are in custody, charged in connection with what police are calling a large-scale prostitution ring. One of them is a Baltimore City firefighter.
Earlier this week police executed a search warrant on a warehouse at 208 South Pulaski Street in West Baltimore, after a long investigation into human trafficking.
“It just was a lot of fine-looking women going up in there. And you know, I didn't know what was going on,” said Anthony Gaskins, who lives nearby.
Inside the warehouse, investigators found ledgers, documents and computer equipment detailing the operation, and that's not all.
“We also seized large amounts of condoms and what are being described as sexual aids, sex aids,” said Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Baltimore City Police Department.
The FBI coordinated with city police in investigating this case. Sidney Ford, a special advisor to Maryland's Human Trafficking Task Force tells ABC-2 News that means there must have been some out of state connection to the case, or that there were a large number of victims forced to work as prostitutes, or that some of them could have been children.
Two men have been taken into custody -- 29-year-old Jamar Simmons -- a Baltimore City firefighter, and also 34-year-old Franklin Coit.
Ford said that the warehouse provided a haven for the operation -- in an area where pimps know there is a demand. “That whole area that surrounds the warehouse is a known strip for prostitution and human trafficking,” she said.
Neighbors say they can't believe the alleged "pimps" is also a city firefighter. “A fireman doing it? Now that surprises me,” Gaskins said.
Ford counsels women and children who've been victimized by human trafficking.
She is not surprised. “One of the best ways for criminals to operate is to have a daytime persona that seems legitimate, and then on their off hours, on their down time have this other thing going on,” she said.
Jamar Simmons, had a previous sex trafficking charge back in 2010. In that case he received probation before judgment -- that allowed him to keep his job with the department. If he had pleaded guilty or been convicted, he would have lost his job.
Now he's been suspended without pay.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sex trafficking there is help. You can call the Safe House of Hope organization at (443) 690-9679.
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