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Victims as young as 14 found in human trafficking probe in Camarillo; 1 suspect arrested

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(Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE)

A Sacramento man was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking offenses last week after victims, including female juveniles, were found in a Camarillo hotel, authorities said.

Ventura County Sheriff’s Office detectives launched an investigation March 20 after a Citrus Heights police detective informed deputies that a 14-year-old female runaway may have been in the Camarillo area.

The 14-year-old was reportedly seen in an internet post advertising sexual services, leading the detective from Citrus Heights, a suburb of Sacramento, to believe she was a victim of human trafficking.

Deputies said they searched lodging locations in Camarillo and in the early morning hours of March 21 found the 14-year-old at a hotel with two other females ages 17 and 22. (Read full article here)

San Bernardino man pleads guilty to pimping minor in Ventura

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Percy Stanley, 28, of San Bernardino

(Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE)

A San Bernardino man pleaded guilty to pimping a minor in Ventura, according to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.

Percy Stanley, 28, is expected to receive a three-year prison sentence when he is sentenced Oct. 17, prosecutors said.

Stanley and Asia Jones, 18, of Moreno Valley, were arrested Jan. 11 after a witness reported to Ventura police that a minor and a man were having sex in a neighbor’s side yard, authorities said.

The minor was a 16-year-old girl missing out of Riverside County, police said.

Jones and Stanley had both been charged with felony causing a minor to engage in a commercial sex act and pimping a minor. Jones pleaded guilty in March to causing a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, prosecutors said. (Read full article here)

Court appearance scheduled for human trafficking suspects

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Brian Lewis, 21

A court appearance has been scheduled for the three men arrested Saturday on suspicion of human trafficking, according to county records.

Brian Lewis, 21, Dashawn Jackson, 18, and Dameon Howard, 20, all from Fresno, were arrested Saturday on suspicion of causing a minor to engage in a commercial sex act and conspiracy to commit a crime, according to county jail records. Lewis was also arrested on suspicion of carrying a loaded firearm, police said.

The three men will appear in court at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in room 14 of the Ventura County Superior Court.

Police were first notified of the crime by the National Human Trafficking Center, who received a hotline call from a 17-year-old victim, authorities said. Police said the victim claimed she had been with the men over three days in San Diego County and “forced to commit acts of prostitution.” Police were then alerted of where the three men were staying and arrived to arrest the suspects. (Read article here)

Dashawn Jackson, 18

Dameon Howard, 20

3 arrested as new human trafficking case emerges in Ventura

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Three Fresno men were arrested Saturday on suspicion of human trafficking in Ventura, authorities said.

Ventura police said they were alerted about 5:30 a.m. to the victim by the National Human Trafficking Center after the 17-year-old female called a hotline and said she was hiding in the area of Valentine Road and Victoria Avenue.

Officers found the victim and took her to the police station, where she told detectives she had been with three men over the past three days in San Diego County and “was forced to commit acts of prostitution,” police said in a news release. The men told her she was not free to leave and threatened her if she did not comply, police said.

The victim gave officers descriptions of the suspects and their vehicle and said they had been staying at La Quinta Inn, 5818 Valentine Road, police said.

Detectives with the agency’s street crimes unit went to the inn and found the vehicle, authorities said. A traffic stop was conducted on it about 10:30 a.m. after the men were seen leaving the room, police said. A loaded firearm was found in a search of the vehicle, police said.

The victim later identified the men from the traffic stop as her captors, and all three were arrested, police said. Brian Lewis, 21, Dashawn Jackson, 18, and Dameon Howard, 20, were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and conspiracy to commit a crime, police said. Lewis also was arrested on suspicion of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle, authorities said. (Read full article here)

 

Ex-probation officer sentenced for child porn

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(Photo: Ventura County Sheriff’s Office)

A former Ventura County probation officer was sentenced Friday to a year in jail and five years of probation involving child pornography charges.

James Richard Schmitt, 54, pleaded guilty in December to two felony charges of possession of child pornography and was sentenced in Ventura County Superior Court.

Schmitt, who was working as a senior deputy probation officer, was arrested after a joint investigation by the FBI and the Ventura County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation found that the Oxnard man had been using an online service that provided content involving sexually exploited children.

According to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, Yahoo in 2014 found certain account holders based in the Philippines were using its service to traffic child pornography. Yahoo tracked the seller accounts to buyer accounts all around the world, prosecutors said. (Read full article here)

Two charged with pimping a minor in Ventura

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(Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE)

Asia Jones, 18, of Riverside County (Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE)

Two people were charged with felony offenses Friday related to their alleged involvement in the human sex trafficking of a minor in Ventura, officials said.

Asia Jones, 18, of Riverside County, and Arkansas native Percy Stanley, 27, were charged with felony causing a minor to engage in a commercial sex act and pimping a minor, according to Ventura County Superior Court records.

The pair was arrested by Ventura police on Wednesday after a witness reported at about 2:15 p.m. that the minor and a man were having sex in a neighbor’s side yard, police said. Stanley was also arrested on a felony warrant for human trafficking of a minor in a San Bernardino County case, police said.

The victim was identified as a 16-year-old girl missing out of Riverside County, police said. Ventura police Sgt. Jerry Foreman said he did not know how long the girl had been missing. (Read full article here)

California decriminalizes prostitution for minors after Gov. Jerry Brown signs bills to aid trafficking victims

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Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed more than half a dozen bills that decriminalize prostitution and increase protections for young trafficking victims in court amid growing efforts in California to help children and young adults swept into the trade of forced sex and labor.

Among the bills passed were laws that would prohibit the disclosure of victims’ personal information, provide victims’ services to trafficking witnesses and allow minors under age 16 to testify through closed-circuit televisions in certain cases.

But also approved were hotly contested bills that would decriminalize prostitution and allow human trafficking victims to vacate prior convictions and seal their records.

Senate Bill 1322, authored by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), make the crimes of solicitation and loitering with intent to commit prostitution misdemeanors inapplicable to children younger than 18. It also allows law enforcement to take sexually exploited children into temporary custody — only if leaving them unattended would pose an immediate threat to their health or safety. (Read full article here)

Camarillo couple arrested for human trafficking

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CAMARILLO, Calif. – A couple is behind bars for allegedly prostituting a 15-year-old teenage girl. It’s unclear if the girl is related to the couple.

Jessica Lynn Stanley, 26, of Simi Valley and Robert Ryan McGraa, 35, or Thousand Oaks, had been staying at a Camarillo motel in the 1600 block of E. Daily Drive when the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office received a tip of the alleged human trafficking.

Investigators say Stanley had posted several escort advertisements under an alias on various websites, such as Backpage.com. During an undercover operation, Stanley allegedly arranged a meeting between the undercover detective and the 15-year-old teen for sex. (Read full article here)

Ads to warn of ‘Ugly Truth’ of human trafficking

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County officials announced on Monday the launch of a campaign intended to educate the public about sex trafficking and child exploitation.

Dubbed “The Ugly Truth,” the campaign will use billboards, radio spots, videos played in elevators and at health clubs and posters displayed at bus shelters and on trolleys. It’s expected to run about three months.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan said at a Monday morning news conference that law enforcement authorities see a “disconnect” between what they know about sex trafficking and the community’s attitudes toward it. Some of that, she said, may be attributed to movies and television shows that glamorize the sex trade.

Stephan said the campaign grew out of a belief that members of the public would be more willing to work against human trafficking in their own communities if they had a better understanding of the conditions that drive children and adults into the sex trade (Read full article here)