ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – Each day this week we told a different story about the underground sex trade business effecting countless children around the nation and here, in St. Louis. Read: Megan Lynch’s Special Report: Children for Sale
This Thursday, September 26th 2013, about 75 area dancers, waitresses, bartenders, managers and club owners will undergo training on how to spot victims and sex traffickers. Its a movement called Club Operators Against Sex Trafficking (COAST) and was started by a Sauget, Ill. strip club owner.
Micheal L. Ocello, owns the Penthouse nightclub and five others in the area. His company owns 18 more across the country.
Ocello said this initiative first started when he was accused of hiring an illegal immigrant and being involved in the sex trade business. Agents cleared Ocello and his nightclubs of any wrong doing, but according to Ocello it really struck a cord. He reached out to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent with the idea of setting up a training program.
Ocello said so far his organization has trained over 3,100 people in 200 clubs across the country.
An Agent with Homeland Security Investigations will conduct the training sessions, as well as a representative from the St. Louis International Institute.
The next COAST training session is Thursday, September 26th at 2 p.m. at the Ramada Plaza at 811 N. 9th Street, St. Louis, Mo.