Florida officials have arrested more than a dozen people allegedly involved in a Lee County prostitution ring that involved a house converted into a sex shop, complete with what was described as a torture chamber.
The house was located right down the street from a Cape Coral school.
The sex shop was in plain view of Ida Baker High School.
While walking to and from school, student Natalie Hernandez passes the house everyday.
“They have a lot of cars,” she said.
Though it looks normal on the outside, Lieutenant Christopher Reeves with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said on the inside, “It was set up as a one-stop shop for all kinds of what you could call – sexual ventures.”
According to the sheriff’s office report:
“All bedrooms only had a blow up mattress or small bed on the floor. The garage was converted into a sexual torture chamber — equipped with a leather bed, hand cuffs, whips and chains.”
“It was set up for the sole purpose of prostitution,” said Reeves.
The house was just one stop in a county-wide prostitution operation and in just 14 hours, deputies arrested 13 people on prostitution charges.
The sting was mainly targeting sex solicitation online.
Deputies went undercover in homes and motels in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Punta Gorda and Lehigh Acres.
“Unfortunately it seems that our local area is one of the biggest solicitors and advertisers for that particular prostitution,” Reeves said.
Residents in the Cape Coral neighborhood are happy about the arrests, but say they want the sex house gone.
“I don’t like it at all that that has happened. It’s something serious. And when your have grandkids, you don’t like something like that happening in your area,” said Cape resident Elena Caravallo.
As for Hernandez, she says she may find a new way to walk to school.
“I mean you never know who’s watching you or something,” she said.
The owner of the home says the rooms are set up the way they are because she hosts swinger parties there on a regular basis.
“I host swinger parties here on the weekends. I have been for four years. The police are well aware, I’m not breaking any laws and there’s nothing illegal going on. My neighbors are all very well-aware, matter of fact I’ve had a few neighbors at the parties,” the owner said.
The owner of the home, who did not want to be identified, is not facing any criminal charges.