Shock after man charged with human trafficking of girl in Dothan - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Shock after man charged with human trafficking of girl in Dothan


A runaway Mississippi teen has found herself caught in the middle of a South Alabama sex slavery ring. Dothan police say the young girl was picked up by a man, then held against her will and forced to have sex for money.

The case unfolded when investigators say she bravely broke free. A Tennessee man is now charged with human trafficking, the first arrest of its kind the state has ever made.

"It surprises me, wouldn't have ever thought," said Wiley Morse, maintenance supervisor for the Quality Inn in Dothan.

Morse still can't believe human trafficking would take place where he works. The girl, whom police say is over 15, was held against her will at the hotel. Police say she was beaten, forced to do drugs, and sold for sex. Authorities say Alonso Santiagito is the suspect and it's believed other women have also fallen victim to his abuse.

Morse says he saw the women who were allegedly being held up by Santiagito. "None of them came on like they were being forced or anything like that, at least from what I could tell. But, you never know," he said.

Morse even states it's a shock to hear about Santiagito, speaking highly of the alleged human trafficker.  "I still can't believe he did it," claimed Morse. "He was real nice, real polite."

Investigators, however, say he is far from nice or polite.

"This man is dangerous," stated Sgt. Philip Rice with the Dothan Police Department.

According to police, Santiagito's alleged vicious acts were discovered after the teen decided to break free and run for her life.  She found help through a neighbor who took her safely inside and called police.

"If this girl had not been able to break free and get help," said Rice, "she would have ended up dead. Not to mention people's lives are destroyed by this."

Officers say, unfortunately, this type of crime happens everywhere, which is why you should always keep your eyes and ears open for any suspicious activities.

Sgt Rice says you should even take note when on vacation. "Are people constantly coming and going? Are the people you believe to be staying constantly going to other rooms? We don't ask you to put yourself in the middle, but just call local police."

As far as other men being involved, DNA evidence was collected and is currently being tested. We're told analysis may take some time, and more charges are possible.

Investigators believe this isn't Santiagito's first time to do such acts and believe he committed similar crimes with victims in other states.

He is charged with human trafficking, possession of drugs, and distributing controlled substances to a minor. He is being held without bond.

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