New details on suspect arrested after hours long human trafficking related SWAT standoff

Crime

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The man taken into custody after a SWAT standoff in south Austin Wednesday is accused of human trafficking, according to court documents.

Austin police were sent to the scene of a 911 call around 3 p.m. at a Days Inn Hotel off Interstate Highway 35 and Ben White Boulevard. The desk clerk at the hotel said a woman ran into the office naked, wrapped in a blanket and said she was scared for her life.

When police arrived at the scene they found the woman crouched behind the clerk’s desk. The victim told police she had been prostituting herself for a man later identified as Cortez Lorenzo Johnson, 36. She said she worked for Johnson in Louisiana but he was arrested and charged with human trafficking so they moved to Austin.

Austin police were able to confirm that Johnson was arrested in Louisiana on a human trafficking charge. They also said he was arrested in Houston on a compelling prostitution by force/threat/fraud charge.

According to the vicitm, she had been living at the motel with Johnson since Oct. 8. She said Johnson made her and two other girls walk around in downtown Austin and verbally solicit sex.

The victim told police all the money she would make went straight to Johnson. She also said if she didn’t make over $1,000 a night Johnson would hit her, destroy her things or deprive her of food and water. She said Johnson carries a silver pistol and would threaten to beat her with it.

When asked about why she was scared for her life, the victim told police Johnson attacked her because he thought she kept $200 from him. Johnson allegedly punched the victim in the face and stomped on her. She said he unplugged a lamp from the wall and she feared he would strangle her with it.

According to the victim, she ran from the room as Johnson chased her and tried to drag her back. She said she got away and ran to the motel’s front office but Johnson ran away in a black sedan.

Police say Johnson’s sedan was found a few blocks away parked behind a bar. The victim’s cellphone was found by a patron inside the bar and given to staff. According to police, all the texts between Johnson and the victim were deleted from the phone.

At the police station the victim changed her mind about pressing charges against Johnson and asked to be taken back to the hotel. Shortly after walking back into her room the victim came out and told police Johnson was inside.

Police say Johnson refused to leave the room which prompted the department to call in the SWAT team. After an hours long standoff, ending at 2:45 a.m., Johnson was taken into custody.

In an interview with police, Johnson said he did not know what the victim did for a living. He said he was just a “sugar daddy” who took care of her. Johnson admitted to attacking her but said it was because she put a narcotic in his drink and stole $300 from him.

When asked why he didn’t wait for police to arrive to report the theft Johnson said he needed to go to a convenience store and buy a 5-Hour Energy drink and go to the Cadillac dealership to buy parts.

Johnson told investigators he was a club promoter but police say he could not name a club he promoted.

Previously, on Oct. 8, police were called to a Quality Inn off State Highway 71 near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The hotel staff told police a woman walked into the lobby drunk and covered in blood. She had numerous injuries including a swollen nose.

Police say the woman would not give them a statement. They discovered her room at the Quality Inn was paid for by a Lorenzo Johnson. Hotel staff said Johnson had been a customer there for about a month and would pay in cash each morning.

Police spoke with the victim from the Dec. 19 incident. She told them she and two other women were forced to prostitute for Johnson while they lived at the Quality Inn.

According to the affidavit, within the past six weeks the victim had been arrested on prostitution charges three times. Johnson was arrested and charged with continuous trafficking of persons. His bond is set at $100,000.

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