NORWALK >> A sheriff’s task force arrested a Lakewood man and seized 13 guns while dismantling an alleged prostitution and human trafficking ring operating out of a Norwalk escort service last week, authorities announced Wednesday.
Omar Nicandro Sanchez, 37, is also accused of sexually assaulting at least one woman and one underage girl who worked for his illegal escort business, “Bombshells,” which operated out of an office at Studebaker and Leffingwell roads in Norwalk according to California High Patrol Investigator Kerri Rivas of the L.A. Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, who served as the lead investigator on the case.
The multi-agency task force arrested him Friday at the business, she said. He was released from custody two days later after posting $420,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled April 28 in the Norwalk branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
In a written statement, sheriff’s officials described Bombshells as, “an illegal escort business, which supplied women for commercial sex to paying customers.”
Furthermore, “Mr. Sanchez victimized some of the women who worked at the agency and sold their sexual services for money,” Rivas said.
At least one of the sexual assault victims was a juvenile, she said.
The purported Escort service was believed to have been operating in Norwalk for two to three years, Rivas said. It used vague advertisement on websites such as Backpage.com to solicit Johns.
The investigation was ongoing, and investigators were still working to determined exactly how many victims were involved.
Sanchez faces expected charges of human trafficking related to the underage victim, as well as pimping and pandering charges in connection with the adults, Rivas said. He also faces potential charges of rape and sexual assault of a minor.
Additionally, Sanchez is expected to face numerous weapon-related charges after investigator seized 13 guns, including several AR-15 and AK-47-style weapons. “Because of a previous felony conviction, Sanchez is prohibited from possessing firearms,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
The cache of weapons was seized from Sanchez’s home, vehicle and a storage unit he had rented, Rivas said.
Investigators also seized cash believed to be proceeds from the illicit operation, officials said.
The bust was the culmination of a six-month-long investigation that began when some of the victims came forward, Rivas said.
Investigators are seeking any potential additional victims of Sanchez or his operation, she said. Anyone with information can reach the L.A. Regional Human Trafficking Task Force at 323-526-5156. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTOS courtesy of the L.A. Regional Human Trafficking Task Force
POMONA >> Police arrested three alleged prostitutes and one alleged facilitator to prostitution during a sting in Pomona on Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
The Pomona Police Department’s Major Crimes Task Force, along with Pomona police detectives, conducted the operation along the city’s East Holt corridor, “which is an area known for prostitution related activity,” Pomona police Sgt. Brian Hagerty said in a written statement.
Both uniformed and undercover officers took part, ultimately arresting three women on suspicion of prostitution, the sergeant said.
Arrested were Terrill Gayden, 32, of Fontana, on suspicion of aiding or supervising prostitution, as well as LaWana Roberson, 21, of Fontana, Porcha Chavez, 24, of Lancaster and Amy Hunt, 42, of Pomona, on suspicion of loitering with intent to commit prostitution, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
“The Pomona Police Department takes a proactive approach in improving the quality of life issues by deterring prostitution and human trafficking in the City of Pomona,” Hagerty said. “These types of operations serve as an opportunity for victims of Human Trafficking to speak with officers about the dangers of this lifestyle and provide advocates the opportunity to relocate them to safe locations. Similar operations are scheduled to take place in the near future.”
According to booking records, Gayden and Hunt were released from custody pending their initial court appearances. Chavez and Roberson, who each had pre-existing criminal cases, were being held in lieu of $52,000 and $77,000 bail, respectively.
Anyone with tips regarding prostitution-related activity is asked to contact Pomona police at 909-620-2085. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
EAST PASADENA >> Deputies arrested 10 men ranging in age from 28 to 78 on suspicion of soliciting prostitution late Thursday during an undercover sting near Pasadena, officials said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Human Exploitation and Trafficking Task Force conducted the sex buyer “John” sting in the unincorporated county area just East of Pasadena, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. Undercover female deputies posed as prostitutes throughout the night.
Deputies arrested 10 men for misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution, according to the sheriff’s statement. One of them was also booked for possession of methamphetamine and driving on a suspended license.
The suspects are residents of Azusa, Duarte, El Monte, Eagle Rock, La Verne, Pasadena, Huntington Park, Los Angeles and Rancho Cucamonga.
WEST COVINA >> A jury convicted an Oakland man Thursday of luring a teenage girl from home and forcing her to work as a prostitute throughout Southern California last year, as well as pimping a woman in El Monte in 2012, authorities said.
Rufus McNeely, 37, faces up to 30 years to life in prison when he returned to West Covina Superior Court for sentencing Sept. 17, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials.
He will also be required to registers as a sex offender for the rest of his life, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
The jury deliberated for less than three hours before finding McNeely guilty of human trafficking of a minor for a sex act, pandering by procuring a minor over the age of 16 and pimping, officials said.
“In September 2013, the defendant met a 16-year-old girl and lured her from her home in Oakland,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement. “As they drove through California, McNeely made the teenage girl prostitute in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Ventura County.”
The girl eventually called authorities, and a multi-agency law enforcement task force arrested McNeely Oct. 2, 2013, in Claremont, according to district attorney’s officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
When McNeely was arrested, he was already the subject of an El Monte Police Department investigation for pimping a woman in that city in 2012, district attorney’s officials said.
“Based on McNeely’s involvement with the teen and new evidence, officials had enough to also charge him in connection with the previous crime,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
Prior to his conviction, McNeely had been held in lieu of $325,000 bail, records show.
The Claremont and El Monte police departments took part in the investigation, along with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
PASADENA – Authorities have broken up what they’re calling a “high-end,” multi-million dollar prostitution ring that used expensive apartments in Pasadena and Irvine and employed numerous female prostitutes, officials announced Wednesday.
Pasadena police’s Special Investigations Unit and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents worked for two years investigating the alleged ring, arresting six people and seizing cash, automobiles, jewelry and other property, officials said in a news release.
Police identified two of the main suspects as Li Chen, a 32-year-old female of Temple City, and Thanh Ly, a 35-year-old male from Temple City.
They were described as leaders of the ring. Both were booked on suspicion of pimping and pandering. Each was being held on $2 million bail.
An anonymous call left on a tip line led to the discovery of the ring.
“Prostitution is not a victimless crime, as some would argue,” Interim Chief of Police Christopher Vicino said in a news release. “It negatively impacts the quality of life and the very fabric of the community. The neighborhoods and apartments where these crimes were committed will ultimately be safer for the families that live in them.”
LOS ANGELES — James Mussenden, the former El Monte city manager caught up in a Pomona prostitution sting, will face misdemeanor solicitation charges, officials said Tuesday.
Mussenden, 59, of Glendora, was one of 18 men caught in the Holt Ave. hooker sting on Oct. 15. He likely faces a fine in the case. No court date has been set.
“It’s one count of soliciting,” DA spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said Tuesday. “All the men arrested in the case have been charged with the same count.”
Mussendin, who had been city manager since 2006, resigned his job two days after the arrest. He additionally resigned his post as a commissioner for the Trails of the Valley Boy Scouts council.
This photo comes from a reader at the scene of Wednesday’s prostitution bust in East Pasadena The van was impounded after its driver was nailed by cops:
SANTA ANA – A Florida woman is accused of making more than $8.5 million from an online prostitution business that claimed to employ porn stars and fashion models.
Michelle Braun appeared Monday in federal court in Orange County and was allowed to remain free pending her next pretrial hearing next month.
The Boca Raton woman is accused of charging clients $50,000 or more to spend the night with adult film stars, models, and actresses. Prosecutors say she used her travel business, Global Travel Network Inc., to launder the money.
Braun pleaded not guilty in March to money laundering and transporting someone for prostitution purposes. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors say she is expected to change her plea to guilty before her next hearing.
Braun and her lawyer declined to comment.
The OC Register broke this story Tuesday. The story claims that porn queen McKenzie Lee was among those offered to clients…
Here’s a press release from the US Department of Justice:
A Florida man was arrested last night by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department on federal charges that he prostituted a 17-year-old girl he solicited through her page on the MySpace website and then offered her services on Craigslist.
Christopher Tyrone Young, also known as “Staydown,” 28, of Orlando, Florida, was arrested last night in San Diego after being named in a criminal complaint filed Monday in United States District Court in Santa Ana. The complaint charges Young with one count of sex trafficking of children.
The investigation into Young began on March 24 after investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department arrested a 17-year-old girl on prostitution charges. After it was learned that the girl was a runaway minor from Florida, investigators determined that she was working for a pimp that the girl later identified as Young, according to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint.
Young allegedly contacted the girl last October and, after promising to make her a “star,” gave her a bus ticket from Florida to Las Vegas, Nevada. Following a three-day bus trip from Florida to Las Vegas, Young brought the girl to Orange County, where he had her work as a prostitute. Using sexually explicit photos he took of the girl, Young placed an ad on the Craigslist website for Orange County that offered sexual services, the affidavit alleges. Young later had the girl working as a prostitute by walking streets in the California cities of Anaheim, Pomona and Montclair, as well as in Las Vegas. The affidavit also alleges that Young had sex with the girl and provided her with the drug ecstasy.
Young is expected to make his initial court appearance this afternoon in federal court in Santa Ana.