Header Image - Ventura County Coalition Against Human Traffic

One arrested in human trafficking attempt in Camarillo

by ADMIN

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office thwarted a human trafficking attempt in a Camarillo motel last week, authorities said Thursday.

Authorities said that at 10:20 a.m. March 30, police responded to a call of possible prostitution at the Quality Inn & Suites, 984 W. Ventura Blvd.

After conducting an investigation and multiple interviews, authorities said they determined illegal prostitution activities were taking place at the motel.

A 51-year-old woman in one of the rooms was found to be a victim of human trafficking, according to investigators. She was provided with county services for victims of human trafficking, which inform them of their rights and options for safely leaving their trafficking situation, according to authorities.

Through the investigation, authorities said they learned one of the motel clerks, a 27-year-old male from Camarillo, was aware of the trafficking and aided in its occurrence there. The man was arrested on suspicion of aiding prostitution and was later cited and released from custody with a pending court date, authorities said.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate. (Read article here)

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

by ADMIN

(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)

Fifth defendant sentenced in multi-county prostitution ring

by ADMIN

A driver involved in a multimillion-dollar prostitution ring of more than a dozen Chinese women that operated in a hotel in Camarillo and other businesses was sentenced to more than eight years in state prison.

Juiyin Cui, 64, of Rosemead, appeared Wednesday before Ventura County Superior Court Judge Patricia Murphy. Cui pleaded guilty March 14 to three felony counts of pimping, one count of conspiracy to commit human trafficking and two counts of money laundering. He also admitted to overt acts related to the conspiracy charge.

Murphy sentenced Cui to eight years and eight months in state prison and ordered him to pay $500,000 for the conspiracy charge and $50,000 for the money-laundering counts. Cui also must register as a sex offender, Senior Deputy District Attorney Melissa Suttner said.

Cui is the fifth defendant who has pleaded guilty and been sentenced for involvement in a prostitution operation that solicited customers through advertisements in the website ad-portal Backpage.com.

The ring was discovered after county sheriff’s detectives found an ad that included photos of an Asian female “in sexually provocative clothing and poses” offering services in Camarillo. Detectives said the address was that of the Quality Inn & Suites. (Read full article here)

‘Mastermind’ of prostitution ring sentenced

by ADMIN

A Covina man described as the “mastermind” of a multimillion-dollar prostitution ring was sentenced Wednesday morning to 12 years and eight months in state prison for his role in trafficking dozens of female Chinese nationals.

Hsin Chieh “Jerry” Wang, 40, appeared before Ventura County Superior Court Judge Bruce Young and was also ordered to pay $500,000 for conspiracy to commit human trafficking and another $250,000 for money laundering.

Wang had pled guilty Jan. 19 to 11 felony charges, including conspiracy to commit human trafficking, pimping and money laundering.

He and four others were arrested Aug. 4 after a six-month investigation into an operation that forced 28 Chinese women into a prostitution ring at various motels throughout the state, including the Comfort Inn in Camarillo.

According to court records, the prostitution ring was discovered after local sheriff’s detectives found an advertisement in the Ventura County section of Backpage.com. The advertisement included photos of an Asian female “in sexually provocative clothing and poses” offering services in Camarillo, authorities said. Detectives said the address was that of the Quality Inn & Suites. (Read full article here)

Dispatcher in human trafficking ring sentenced

by ADMIN

(Photo: PHOTO COURTESY OF VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE)

A San Gabriel woman who acted as the dispatcher for a prostitution ring that trafficked dozens of female Chinese nationals and used the online classified-ad portal Backpage.com was sentenced to 11 years and four months in state prison.

Defeng Hu, 33, appeared before Ventura County Superior Court Judge Bruce Young on Wednesday for sentencing. Hu pleaded guilty Jan. 19 to one count of conspiracy to commit human trafficking, four counts of pimping, seven counts of money laundering and one count of filing false income tax.

Hu is the fifth defendant to plead guilty in the case. In February 2016, a Ventura County sheriff’s detective located an advertisement on the Backpage.com advertisement portal under the Ventura County section that was labeled “escorts.” The advertisement included photos of an Asian female “in sexually provocative clothing and poses” offering services in a Camarillo hotel, authorities said.

“Hu would take calls from the ‘Johns’ answering the Backpage ads and depending on where the Johns were calling from, she would then call the woman and tell them to go to the hotel and tell them an individual was coming for a job,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Melissa Suttner.

During a search of Hu’s residence, she tried to flee from law enforcement officers and jumped from a third-story balcony, fracturing her ankle. When she was arrested, detectives found she was carrying $24,000 in cash and various cellphones and ledgers, Suttner said. (Read full article here)

Court appearance scheduled for human trafficking suspects

by ADMIN

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

by ADMIN

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)

 

Drivers in prostitution ring plead guilty

by ADMIN

Two Los Angeles County men pleaded guilty Tuesday for their roles as drivers in a multi-million dollar prostitution ring linked to the classified advertisement portal Backpage.com and involving dozens of female Chinese nationals.

Juiyin Cui, 63, and Runan Xia, 33, appeared before Ventura County Superior Court Judge Patricia Murphy for a preliminary hearing, but instead both men pleaded guilty.

Cui, of Rosemead, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of pimping, one count of conspiracy to commit a crime and two counts of money laundering. He also admitted to overt acts related to the conspiracy charge. Cui will be sentenced to eight years and eight months when he appears again in court on April 19, Senior Deputy District Attorney Melissa Suttner said.

Xia pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime and also admitted to the overt act related to the charge. Xia, who had a “minor” role in the prostitution operation, will be sentenced April 18, Suttner said.

Cui and Xia are among five individuals who were arrested in August in connection with the prostitution ring that operated in hotels and motels in Los Angeles, Riverside, Tulare and Ventura counties.

According to court records, the prostitution ring was discovered after local sheriff’s detectives found an advertisement in the Ventura County section of Backpage.com. The ad included photos of an Asian female “in sexually provocative clothing and poses” offering services in Camarillo, authorities said. Detectives said the address was that of the Quality Inn & Suites. (Read full article here)

Bill would add hotels, motels to human trafficking fight

A new Senate bill looks to address human trafficking where the crimes often occur: hotels and motels.

Senate Bill 225, introduced earlier this month by Sen. Henry Stern, D-Agoura Hills, would add hotels and motels to the list of businesses that are required to post signs with hotline numbers people can call or text if they suspect human trafficking or need assistance.

Human trafficking involves not only forced prostitution but also forced labor.

Such signs are already required at certain locations, including massage parlors, urgent care facilities, truck stops, bus and rail stations, and adult and sexually-oriented businesses.

Stern said including hotels and motels on that list would “plug a loophole” that’s existed for too long.

“We’ve seen the effectiveness of the hotline as a tool to shine the light on this pox in our society,” Stern said. “What we found is hotels and motels tend to be a major target for perpetrating these crimes of human trafficking. There are all kinds of activities that go on and people don’t say anything, so what we want to do is arm the employees and customers with information so if they see something, they know who to call.”

The hotline numbers are available 24 hours, seven days a week and are accessible in over 160 languages. Callers can leave messages anonymously. If the bill is passed, hotels and motels that do not comply will be fined $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

Stern’s bill taps into the larger problem of tracking illegal activities at private businesses. According to a 2012 study released by the California Department of Justice, human trafficking “can be facilitated by businesses that promote the crime or accept bribes to remain silent.”

According to the study, from Jan. 1, 2007, to Sept. 30, 2012, the California Department of Justice made 441 arrests and 113 convictions for human trafficking in Alameda, Los Angeles, Monterey, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Santa Clara counties.

Those numbers do not include alternative penal code sections prosecutors use to charge suspects connected to human trafficking. Prosecutors also use pimping and pandering laws, which require proof of fewer legal elements than human trafficking, making the likelihood of conviction greater, according to the study.

In Ventura County, the District Attorney’s Office filed 12 pimping cases from 2012 to 2016. The office filed two cases of human trafficking last year and one in 2015.

In some of those cases, arrests were made after months of investigating human trafficking suspects operating out of hotels and motels. (Read full article here)

Man gets five years for human trafficking

by ADMIN

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

A Fresno man was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison for human trafficking, officials said.

Demarea Williams, 23, pleaded guilty Jan. 4 in Ventura County Superior Court to a felony charge of human trafficking, authorities said. ​

Williams was arrested by Ventura police on Dec. 20 after they received reports of a woman possibly being held against her will and forced to engage in prostitution, authorities said.

Police found the 21-year-old woman at La Quinta Inn in the 5800 block of Valentine Road, authorities said. Williams and a woman were arrested at the scene, authorities reported.

Investigators alleged the 21-year-old victim had been trafficked in California, Texas and Arizona. (Read article here)