TAMPA — Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies say they recently rescued an 18-year-old victim of human trafficking who had been forced into having sex with men over several weeks late last year.
The case resulted in the arrest of Paige Ashley Fried, 28, who deputies say was placing advertisements on adult escort sites to set up the 18-year-old with men. Fried made the teen continue the activity even after the younger woman got a sexually transmitted disease; Fried also gave her drugs to keep her up so that she could work more, Sheriff’ Chad Chronister said at a news conference Thursday.
In addition, the teen told detectives that Fried kept all the money that johns paid for sex and also had the teen’s debit card, Chronister said.
The investigation began Dec. 4 while detectives watched a Tampa hotel, where they saw multiple men leaving a room that Fried and the teen had been in. After the pair left in a car, deputies pulled them over at E Adamo Drive and S Falkenburg Road. Fried was arrested on a meth possession charge while the teen, who had a warrant for her arrest on a grand theft charge, also was arrested.
“It’s very likely that this arrest saved her life,” Chronister said. “Once in custody, the 18-year-old woman told deputies she was being held against her will by Fried.”
Detectives learned that from Oct. 20 until the day of the traffic stop, Fried had used “force, fraud and coercion to manipulate the victim" to have sex with men.
“I can’t emphasize enough that this young woman is the textbook definition of a human trafficking victim,” Chronister said.
Sheriff’s officials said the teen was later released from custody and deputies connected her to Selah Freedom, an organization that helps human trafficking survivors.
Fried, who jail records list as homeless, faces charges of coercing a commercial sex act by human trafficking, possession of met possession of drug paraphernalia. She has been held at Hillsborough County jail since Dec. 4 in lieu of $52,500 bail.
Sheriff’s officials have noted that January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Chronister released a public service announcement explaining how to spot a victim of human trafficking and how to get them help.