By Mike Rush
St. Louis (KSDK) - The Millennium Hotel boasts a revolving restaurant up top with great views of the Gateway Arch, Busch Stadium and downtown St. Louis, but the hotel also believes it may have a pretty good view of human trafficking. Hotel management wants to use what it sees to help stop it.
Just Tuesday, the United States Attorney's Office in St. Louis announced guilty plea agreements from a Minneapolis couple. According to the plea document, Maurice Alexander, a pimp, and his partner, Latoshia Norris, took in a 16-year-old runaway in Minneapolis, gave her drugs and alcohol and trained her to work in the sex trade.
"(They) just did a prostitution circuit, if you will, between Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Des Moines, Iowa, Kansas City, and St. Louis," said U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan.
Authorities found the girl living in St. Louis. The couple faces up to 20 years in prison after admitting to transporting the minor for sex.
"We would view it as human trafficking," said Bob Lohman, with the group The Covering House, a non-profit organization working to create awareness about human trafficking and raise funds to build a safe house for victims in St. Louis.
"St. Louis is in the top 30 in the nation and in the top 10 in the central area," Lohman said.
Because the sex trade is often advertised on the internet and takes place in hotels and motels, The Covering House is partnering with the Millennium Hotel. That means front desk employees, door men, valets and others will play an important role.
"We're going to train all of our staff on the awareness of human trafficking, the signs to look for," said Dominic Smart, general manager of The Millennium.
Smart said his hotel is doing it because it's "socially and morally responsible."
He went on to say, "we need to be working together so that we can prevent this tragedy from happening."
"Getting anybody on board, especially with the credibility like the Millennium Hotel, for them to take it seriously is huge and we applaud them very much," Lohman said.
The Millennium Hotel will be signing its pledge to this cause with the group Sisters of Saint Joseph next month. But the training has already begun. Part of that includes spotting red flag like signs of abuse, lots of traffic in and out of rooms and people checking in with no luggage.