‘We are a mafia’: Cape teen assaulted, nearly forced into sex trafficking

Published: Updated:
Laila Fouissi. Photo via the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

CAPE CORAL, Fla.  What started out as a 17-year-old girl looking for another job almost landed her in a sex trafficking ring.

Laila Fouissi, 19, is facing multiple charges for allegedly kidnapping one of her employees at the Taco Bell on 11 Hancock Bridge Parkway and allowing her to be sexually assaulted by a man in his thirties, the Cape Coral Police Department said.

Planting the seed

Everything began on May 11 when the victim met with Fouissi, her manager, to say her work permit was expiring soon and she would be out of a job.

Fouissi then told her she could make good money by dancing at a strip club in Miami, police said.

But first, the victim would have to “meet a guy,” Fouissi is alleged to have told her.

The victim told Fouissi she was only 17, but Fouissi replied that her age didn’t matter, police said.

The victim’s family was suffering financial hardships. Her parents’ work permits were also expiring and her younger sister was going through medical issues, according to police.

She told Fouissi she’d consider the offer, according to police.

‘We are a mafia’

Fouissi insisted the victim meet the man whom she claimed would be taking care of her while she danced in Miami, police said.

The man called the victim three times and followed her on Instagram, telling her she could work for him at the strip club as long as she was loyal to him, according to police.

After trying to convince her to go to Miami several times, Fouissi drove to the victim’s house with the man on May 15, police said. The victim was home alone, as her parents were at a doctor’s appointment in Miami with her sister.

The three drove to a bridge in the 1300 block of Del Prado Boulevard and got outside the vehicle, police said.

They went underneath the bridge, where the victim was sexually assaulted, according to police.

When they returned to the car to drive the victim home, the man repeatedly told her she needed to be loyal to him, saying she “passed the test” and asking her if “she was down,” according to police reports.

But the victim replied that she still needed to think about it, police said.

“You know, this is like a movie,” the man angrily responded, according to the sheriff’s office. “We are a mafia. You can bring the police, you can bring the FBI, the CIA, and they’re not going to stop me. You already did this, now you gotta be down.”

Turning the tables

While driving around, the man asked the victim if her family was home, deputies said. She falsely informed him her father was there, afraid to admit she would be home alone.

The man ordered Fouissi to pull over on Sixth Street and went to the trunk. When he returned, he had a small handgun and told the victim he was going to shoot her father, police said.

The victim began sobbing and begged him to leave her family alone, according to police. In response, the man placed the gun on her lap and told her to kill herself.

She grabbed the gun and pointed it to her head, the sheriff’s office said. The man screamed and encouraged her to pull the trigger while the victim cried uncontrollably.

The man took the gun and ordered the victim to walk with him to a nearby bush and sexually assaulted her again, police said.

When the man was done, they went back to the vehicle. The man told the victim she owed him $2,000. When she told him she only had $400, he demanded her debit card, according to police.

She complied, knowing he had a gun in his pocket, the sheriff’s office said. Fouissi drove the victim home and the man left with Fouissi.

Arrest made 

Lee County deputies tracked down Fouissi at her home through the victim’s bank statements and surveillance footage from a Walmart where she used the victim’s debit card.

She is in custody facing robbery, kidnapping and sexual assault charges with a $300,000 bond.

The man with Fouissi was not arrested for unknown reasons.

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