ANKENY, Iowa -- Quick thinking by an Iowa newspaper delivery driver and a convenience store worker may have saved two young women from an alleged sex trafficking ring.
Ankeny Police Lieutenant Brian Kroska said if newspaper delivery driver Lavon Franz hadn’t called they might not have found out what was allegedly going on at an Ankeny hotel.
Franz said she was delivering newspapers early Sunday morning in Ankeny when she she saw a woman in distress waiving her down.
“I saw this girl and she was going like this, waving her hands at me, and so immediately I started putting up my windows. And she didn’t look like she was distraught or anything, but she looked like she was upset. And I asked her, you know, ‘Can I help you? Is there something wrong?’ She goes, ‘I just had a bad break up with my boyfriend.’ She was crying,” Franz said
Franz says in that moment her gut told her something wasn’t right and she noticed the woman didn’t have a purse, identification or a cellphone.
“She didn’t seem panicky. She just seemed nervous and upset,” Franz said.
Franz said she drove the young woman to a Kum & Go down the road where the clerk then called the police.
“He called dispatch from there and we got her settled in there because I knew most of the gas stations are ‘safe places,’” Franz said. “That lead (officers) across the street to the Quality Inn where they knocked on a few doors and began to put pieces of the puzzle together and that’s when they ended up arresting the suspect with the charges that were filed,” Lt. Kroska said.
Police arrested 25-year-old Brittany Walters, who faces two felony counts each of pimping and human trafficking, according to the Des Moines Register. Walters is accused of bringing the victims to meet up with potential clients.
Franz said she’s glad she listened to her gut.
“I’m glad she’s safe and that I could help her as much as I could,” Franz said.
Ankeny Police handed the case over to federal investigators.
"We believe that this is tied to some criminal activity possibly occurring in another state, which is why we are referring our case on to ICE where they have investigators that work in human trafficking. That group said they're going to look at the case and see if there's anything they can help us out with," Lt. Kroska said.
Two of the victims have been granted "no contact" orders against Walters.
Walters is scheduled to be back in court next week.