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Runaway teens held in hotel, forced into prostitution

9:45 AM, Jun 14, 2013   |    comments
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TAMPA, Fla. - Room 216 looks like any other at the USA Inn (also known as America's Best Value Inn & Suites), but behind the closed door, Tampa PD says Naba Lewis was holding two teenage girls and forcing them into prostitution.

Officers discovered the setup about midnight Wednesday, after the hotel owner called police about a disturbance. It turns out that the family of one of the girls was at the hotel and trying to take her home.

"We didn't know what was going on," said hotel owner Vijay Patel. "They were here saying their 16-year-old cousin was in a room and she wasn't supposed to be here -- she's not registered at the hotel."

Lewis, 33, was arrested at the hotel. The girls had fled the hotel by the time police arrived, but they were located later and questioned.

"We don't know how in depth this is or how long it's gone on," said police spokesman Jim Contento Thursday, "So now we're going to look into it and find out just who this individual is and what he's been up to."

Kanta Patel lives down the hall from room 216. She didn't recognize Lewis's mug shot and said she never noticed any unusual activity.

"It's nice quiet here, you know," she said, gesturing with her hand to the hallway.

Police are still investigating and talking with federal officials about additional charges at that level.

Police say the two girls are 16 and runaways from the Tampa Bay area who met Lewis online.

"They were taken to the hospital and checked out to make sure their health is okay," said Contento. "That's really our main concern right now -- their safety, their health and then we'll proceed with the investigation."

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