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Prostitute admits forcing teen girls into sex trade

Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 04:32 PM

Two years ago, a 15-year-old girl was kidnapped from Ybor City by a man who tried to force her to become a prostitute in Orlando, federal officials say.

The man, Weylin Ollie Rodriguez, also known as Rico, is scheduled to go on trial in U.S. District Court later this month on child sex trafficking and weapons charges.

On Tuesday, one of the women accused of helping Rodriguez coerce child and adult prostitutes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a minor by coercion.

Tatujuana Joye, 22, of Kissimmee, could face up to life in prison, but likely will receive a lesser sentence under a plea deal. Joye also has agreed to cooperate with the prosecution.

Joye was the second of the so-called "bottom girls" in Rodriguez' case to plead guilty and agree to cooperate. Last month, Pria Gunn, 20, of Orlando pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. Bottom girls are the highest ranking prostitutes in an organization.

According to prosecution court filings, Rodriguez, 29, ran a Central Florida prostitution ring and recruited prostitutes by promising them jobs as models, sometimes charming them and sometimes scaring them.

He "maintained possession of them through force and intimidation by subjecting them and others in their presence to beatings, threats of beatings and threats with a firearm," the prosecution alleges.

In December 2010, a 15-year-old girl was staying with a friend in a hotel for a weekend in Ybor City, according to the prosecution. The two girls met Rodriguez on Seventh Avenue, the main street through the historic tourist attraction.

The next day, the 15-year-old was separated from her friend and saw Rodriguez again on Seventh Avenue.

Rodriguez offered the girl a ride home, the filing states. He took her back to her hotel room to get her belongings. Then when the girl was back in the car, another female in the car handed Rodriguez a gun. He pointed it at the 15-year-old and told her that she was now a "ho," the prosecution alleges.

Rodriguez took the girl to a hotel room in Orlando, where he took her cellphone and kept her belongings. There were other girls, some younger than she. She was given short shorts, a tight tank top and a jacket and sent out to work as a prostitute, the court filing states.

The girl walked the street all night under Gunn's supervision, but refused to engage in prostitution, the court filing states. The next morning, Rodriguez was angry and threatened the girl, brandishing a gun. He also denied her breakfast, the prosecution alleges.

Rodriguez moved her and some other girls to another motel. He pulled the phone cords from the wall and told Gunn not to let the girl leave the room. Gunn moved furniture against the door and wouldn't let the girl use the bathroom alone, the prosecution alleges.

The girl was sent back to the street that night to work as a prostitute. A man pulled up and Gunn told the girl how much to charge for sex acts, the prosecution alleges. The girl got into the car with the man and they drove off. However, the man realized something was wrong, and he let the girl call her mother.

The girl's mother met the girl and the man at a gas station in Apopka. Mother and daughter drove back to Orlando, found the motel and notified police.

Court documents detail several other cases of teen-age girls and women authorities say were forced to prostitute for Rodriguez. Some were made to get tattoos branding them as belonging to him, according to the prosecution.

Rodriguez, court documents state, was convicted in 2007 in North Carolina for having indecent liberties with a child after having sex with and impregnating a 15-year-old girl.

Joye began prostituting for Rodriguez in January 2010 after initially thinking she was in a romantic relationship with him, according to her plea agreement. A few months later, Rodriguez designated her his "bottom girl," teaching other girls how to work as prostitutes and enforcing his rules.

Although she and Gunn initially competed to be the bottom girl, they ultimately shared that role, according to court pleadings.

esilvestrini@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7837 Twitter: @ElaineTrib