Woman describes how she escaped her pimp and became a victim of human sex trafficking

BALTIMORE - You see a woman walking down the street who is willing to earn money for sex.

And it's easy to come up with names like "prostitute." But that also suggests she wants to wear those shoes, yet all too often that's not the case.

She is a victim of sex trafficking. A Baltimore woman who broke free from a pimp knows this all too well. 

Singing “Amazing Grace,” her voice will give you chills. At this point, “Amazing Grace “is the meaning of her life.

We agreed to hide her identity as this story is about one month of her life more than three years ago which tells her tale as a survivor of human trafficking.

“It doesn't matter where you come from, if you're a woman, you can make money, they can come after you,” she said.

Using MySpace, she says a friendship formed with the makers of 424 Records, who you can find them on YouTube. The videos were eventually used as evidence in federal court. Legal documents show 45-year-old Alarcon Wiggins is labeled as the “main pimp,” but the U.S. Attorney's office says he had nine other co-defendants.

This Baltimore survivor says his "pimp game" was one-sided and based on manipulation.

READ | Maryland lawmakers seek to toughen human-trafficking laws

"They had their rights to their songs," she said. "They had music videos. They had equipment. They had the studio. They had the video girls. They had the bling, bling."

That bling made it all seem legit. They shared an interest in music for about two months before meeting. Raised in the church, “Amazing Grace" is her foundation. But she hoped R&B would give her a break in the business.

"You really need to get on a track with us,” she said. “You know, you really need to do some music with us. You're talented. You're this, you're that. So of course, I’m like hey why not?"

At 22 years old, she thought she was going after a dream. In June 2010, the tour began by swinging through southern states first. But the music was quickly silenced.

"We couldn't talk with anybody for whatever the reasons were,” she said. “The girls started talking to me about stripping.  That's when I started hitting the strip club cause they were like you need to make money to contribute to this or contribute to that."

She soon started stripping all day, every day. Against her will, she hit the clubs from noon until 2 a.m. as every dime was turned over to the pimps.

The indictment against Wiggins says the women earned about $300 a day from stripping. But then came the so-called overtime work.

"Overtime is pretty much when you step out of that club, you need to go make more money,” she said. “And the way to make more money is find a man that wants sexual favors and that's going to pay you for it." 

And if you didn't make enough, court documents say, women were whipped.

“A lot of people ask that [why I didn’t run] and when you have somebody that threatens your life or you have no idea,” she said.  “First you're not educated in the scenario.  You're not going to go to the police because you're terrified."

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Some of the women worked at Chez Joey's on the Block in Baltimore. Their "pimp game" is all too familiar, said Melissa Snow, child sex trafficking specialist for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"They're masters of manipulation,” Snow said.  “They're very good at identifying a vulnerability in someone's life, whether that's a tangible vulnerability like food, shelter, clothing or something that's more intangible, as talking about love or belonging or a hope or a dream."

One woman's dream turned into a nightmare. There were stops in Atlanta, New Orleans and El Paso before finally breaking free from a hotel with one other woman.

"So many nights that I prayed and I was like God please forgive me for getting in this situation and help me find a way out,” the victim said.

Now that the victim is out, she is helping shed light on how she ever got in to the game.

"Don't believe everything you hear, she said. “Definitely check in to what you're getting into. Tell people about it."

This past November, Alarcon Wiggins was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison. Federal prosecutors say he and nine other Baltimore residents have been convicted and sentenced as part of the investigation.

If you are a victim of sex trafficking and need assistance, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 .
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