Kaylen Maglaris and Jeffery Thomson of Plantation, Florida were arrested Monday for allegedly forcing women to become prostitutes, news sources report. Maglaris, 20, and Thomson, 27, were each booked into the Broward County Main Jail on charges of procuring for prostitution, renting a place for prostitution, human trafficking, and forced commercial sex activity. Thomas’s bail bond was set at $50,300; Maglaris was ordered to be held without bond. The press did not say whether the defendants had hired legal representation.
According to reports, Thomson’s wife may have been involved in the human trafficking ring as well; it is not clear whether any others were involved. Reports were unable to provide the wife’s name or say whether she was arrested. In court, Thomson claimed that he was only following his wife’s instructions when committing the alleged crimes.
Maglaris allegedly worked alongside Thomson and helped recruit potential victim in the Orlando and Tampa areas. Sources say the defendants would promise the victims work opportunities in order to lure them to Plantation. The defendants may have used Backpage.com, an online classified service, in order to advertise the alleged job opportunities. In court, a county judge restricted the defendants from using this online service in the event that they bond out of jail.
Thomas’s duties in the operation apparently included picking the women up from bus stops and providing them with essentials. The job opportunities were then revealed to be prostitution, sources indicate. instead coerce them into prostituting themselves for money. “Once the women got here, they basically were at your will. They didn’t have money unless they were involved in sex,” a county judge reportedly said to Maglaris during a hearing “They couldn’t leave.”
“You split the proceeds from the victims’ earnings as [prostitutes] and, after taking agency fees and paying for room and board, the women would not have any profits,” a Broward County judge reportedly said during Thomas’s hearing. “The court is concerned you are a player in the human trafficking situation going on in South Florida right now.”
During the investigation, detectives apparently raided an Extended Stay America hotel room in Plantation where some of the alleged prostitution occurred. Detectives found drug paraphernalia at the hotel, sources say. It was not immediately clear what drugs the paraphernalia had been used for or whether it belonged to one of the victims.
Prostitution is an ongoing problem in South Florida. Earlier this year, 92 people were arrested in a Polk County prostitution sting, sources report. The defendants were arraigned on charges of aiding and abetting prostitution, deriving proceeds from prostitution, and possession of illegal drugs. It was unclear whether any of the defendants qualified for bail or hired legal aid.
Reports say the arrests were the result of a four-day undercover operation spearheaded by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Detectives targeted websites that listed advertisements for prostitution, sources say. In all, the operation netted 92 arrests, including 12 pimps, 39 johns, 39 prostitutes, and two other people who arrived to undercover meeting locations with the suspects. Among the arrested was Samuel Yoon, a 45-year-old youth minister with the Holy Cows youth ministry.