Three people, two men and one woman, have been arrested following the bust of a sex trafficking ring that spanned from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, reports Fox 11.
Police said Thursday that the six-month investigation resulted in Quinton Brown, 30, Gerald Turner, 32, and Mia McNeil, 32 being charged with 59 counts altogether.
Brown and Turner are currently in custody while McNeil remains at large.
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the investigation involved officials from Los Angeles and Tulare counties, as well as the state Department of Justice.
“These charges stem from the hard work of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force and the California Department of Justice attorneys and special agents. I want to thank our law enforcement partners for their efforts over the course of this six-month investigation to bring these defendants to justice.”
Investigators found that Brown was luring their victims from the Central Valley, then trafficking them throughout the state. The victims were mainly sent to Central Valley, Bay Area and Los Angeles County, as well as Las Vegas.
Eight of the 13 victims were between the ages of 15-17 years old while the others ranged from 18-21 years old.
Brown is charged with 41 criminal counts, Turner is charged with six, and McNeil is charged with 12 counts.
Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boureaux said that social media was a key element in the sex trafficking operation. He urged parents to be wary of their children’s social media usage.
“Be vigilant. Pay attention to what your children are doing online. Ask those very difficult questions.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said that the suspects were using money they had stolen through identity theft to pay for apartments and expensive cars which they used for transporting and housing their victims.
McDonnell also said that the investigation began as a missing persons case when a girl from Tulare County was reported missing. Detectives found the girl in a West Hollywood apartment. Two adults were discovered to be with the girl, one on parole. This led to the discovery of the sex trafficking ring.
[Feature photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office]