Updated:LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. —
Prosecutors say a Norcross woman threatened deportation for five women she kept as her sex slaves. The woman denies she's a human trafficker.
Police say without physical threats, she ran a human trafficking operation right in the heart of the suburbs.
Investigators said Padilla forced at least five women to continue working has her prostitutes
“She picked up money twice a day,” an undercover police officer testified Wednesday.
Authorities said men responded to ads placed by Padilla on the website backpage.com, and she would direct them to a Norcross apartment where the women waited. That's how police discovered the operation.
But it came out in court the women weren't locked in the apartment; they instead came and went each day.
“One lady said she would take her kid to school and then come over,” the officer said.
Padilla's attorney pounced on that statement, trying to convince a magistrate judge there was no human trafficking involved, just women willingly working as prostitutes.
“These people knew what they were getting into from the beginning and left when they wanted to,” said defense attorney Jeff Sliz.
At least three people in the courtroom appeared to be friends or family of Padilla's and spoke with her lawyer after court, but they refused to speak to Channel 2’s Tony Thomas about the allegations.
In all, Padilla faces 14 different counts, including five felony counts of human trafficking.