Tampa Police Have Eye on Adult Entertainment Industry

TAMPA (FOX 13) – By: Anthony Miller, FOX 13 News

Make no mistake about it, when the Republican National Convention comes to town at the end of the month several local businesses stand to make a pretty penny.

One industry that certainly figures to do very well is Tampa‘s world famous adult entertainment businesses

But an increase in that kid of business usually means an increase in another kind of business.

“During conventions and big events girls are brought into the strip clubs to work to make money,” explains Telisia Espinosa of Christian Family Church. “[That’s] because there’s big money to be made.”

To deter an increase in prostitution, the Tampa Police Department has launched ‘Operation Keep it Clean.’ It’s an initiative that brought them to conduct compliance checks at 14 local strip clubs on Thursday and Friday.

“The primary focus of the enforcement work was to make sure that we weren’t getting an increase of juveniles at these locations involved in prostitution,” said John Newman, TPD’s Assistant Chief.

Girls were arrested at the Pink Pony, Alibi Lounge, Scarlett’s, The Play Pen, The Emperor’s Club and Skin Tampa.

By the time police were done, 16 girls were facing charges.

Eric “Ice” Terrell is the operations manager at Skin Tampa.

He says the four girls arrested at his club didn’t do anything wrong.

In fact, he says his girls may have been entrapped by police.

“The girls had no clue why they were being arrested,” Terrell said. “Or, what they did wrong.”

Nonetheless police say girls involved in the sex trade will be coming.

Espinosa says they’re right, and she should know.

Almost 20 years ago she plucked from a Miami strip club by a man she calls her ‘future pimp.’

“He ended up taking me from Miami to Cleveland Ohio and putting me out on the streets the same night that we got there,” she recalled.

Today Espinosa works with a local church and is working to eradicate sex trafficking and prostitution in and around Tampa.

“We just want to get the word out that this city, is not going to take traffickers bringing in girls and selling them for sex,” Espinosa says.

If recent events are any indication, police will be doing the same thing.

Newman: “It’s a serious issue and we want to make sure that we’re always on top of it.”

TPD Detectives aren’t just focusing on the local strip clubs they are monitoring the Internet as well for possible violations.

They say they’ll look for an increase in activities on certain social networking sites, especially as the convention gets closer.