Several arrested in human trafficking cases in Colorado Springs

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Police are actively investigating arrests made in human trafficking cases right here in Colorado Springs.

On Sunday evening, officers arrested 36-year-old Joshua Weldon. He was taken into custody in a parking lot near N. Carefree Circle and Tutt Boulevard in northeast Springs.

According to Weldon's arrest papers, just hours before his arrest, a human trafficking survivor called police late Sunday morning to say she was being threatened by the suspect. The survivor met officers with the Metro Vice, Narcotics and Intelligence Division Human Trafficking Unit at the police department for an interview about an hour later, stating her encounters with Weldon.

In the interview, she said Weldon reportedly posted an advertisement to Craigslist earlier this year, offering a job for people interested in "going on dates with guys, offering a flexible schedule and good money."

The woman responded to the advertisement, where she eventually met up with the suspected trafficker at his home. There, he allegedly took several photos of the woman in her underwear. Weldon reportedly suggested to the woman then that she could make more money by having sex with the men who would pay her.

In the interview, she stated she was hesitant, but over the next three months, had sex with about 20 to 60 buyers. The buyers responded to online advertisements reportedly posted by Weldon.

Officers searched the number Weldon used for the advertisements and traced it back to 117 other escort online posts. Of those photos in the advertisements, the woman who came forward identified 10 of them as photographs of herself reportedly taken at Weldon's home.

The woman stated as part of their agreement, she kept 70 percent of the income, while Weldon took the other 30 percent. She made about $10,000 in less than a few months.

Because the survivor was able to come forward, officers were able to get an arrest warrant for Weldon. He's facing several charges that include pimping, extortion, keeping a place of prostitution and a sex trafficking charge. He's now in jail on a $10,000 bond.

11 News spoke with police about how to protect your family from traffickers.

"With our kiddos, especially with teens, they are very vulnerable if they are in a runaway situation or they are having problems at home," said Lt. Howard Black with the Colorado Springs Police Department. "Making sure that family members are reaching out and holding on to their kiddos and making sure they are not allowing them to be in these circumstances."

On Monday morning, police also announced the arrest of four others Friday in an operation that targeted the buyers, known as "Johns." Of the four arrested, police say two of them had been arrested before for solicitation of a prostitute. One of them is a registered sex offender.

Officers aren't releasing their names at this time, as they say it's still an active investigation.

"There's clearly a demand," Black said. "If there wasn't a demand, we wouldn't have traffickers. So not only do we take a look at dealing with the traffickers, we are also taking a look and arresting Johns that are making choices to be a part of this lifestyle."