Authorities Wednesday announced the rescue of a 20-year- old female human sex trafficking victim from a Buena Park motel.
The investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Human Trafficking Bureau resulted in the arrests of five suspects: Chad Miller, 27, Rico Clayton, 28, Monique Butler, 22, and two other women whose names were not immediately released.
Detectives began their investigation when the victim’s mother reported her missing on March 1, said Deputy Lillian Peck of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
“Because of the circumstances surrounding the victim’s absence, the Human Trafficking Bureau was notified,” Peck said.
Investigators learned that the victim had left home on Feb. 26 in the company of several friends, after being told by a co-worker that they were attending a birthday party.
“Her mother grew worried when she did not see any social media postings over the weekend from the victim, who was unreachable through all accounts,” Peck said. “Two days later, the victim phoned her mother and said she was in Oakland. This alarmed the mother, who immediately questioned the unannounced trip and asked when she would return. The victim said she could not talk and hung up.”
There was no other contact between the victim and her mother that weekend, but the mother, though worried, “reasoned her daughter was 20 years old and would return (on) Monday,” Peck said.
“Monday came and passed without the victim’s return or any word from her,” Peck said. “On Tuesday, March 1, the victim made a hushed phone call to her mother and advised she was being held against her will for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation by two male black adults driving a red sports utility vehicle.”
Detectives from the Human Trafficking Bureau then became involved in the investigation, and they learned that the victim was no longer in Oakland, but was hidden in an apartment in the 16800 block of Downey Avenue in Paramount.
“An adult female was detained in a red sports utility vehicle seen leaving the location that evening after she made statements linking her to the missing victim,” Peck said. “By 9:30 p.m. the same night, detectives narrowed down the victim’s location to a motel room in the 7100 block of Beach Boulevard in Buena Park.”
About 10 p.m. that night — March 1 — detectives entered the room and rescued the victim, whose hometown was not disclosed.
“She was uninjured and provided additional information about a second vehicle driven by the suspects — a late-model gray Mercedes-Benz with paper plates — and said she believed they were on their way back to the Downey Avenue address,” Peck said.
Early on the morning of March 2, detectives saw the suspects’ vehicle pull into the driveway of the Paramount location, Peck said.
Detectives detained the four occupants in the vehicle: Miller, Clayton, Butler and a woman whose name was not released, Peck said.
“Detectives learned the victim was assaulted by suspect Chad Miller and was held captive for the purpose of committing acts of human trafficking,” Peck alleged. “They made sure she was medically treated and connected with service providers after being reunited with her family.”
Peck said “the suspects may operate as far north as Portland, Oregon, and Oakland … as well as the Los Angeles/Orange County area.”
Miller was booked on suspicion of conspiracy, pimping, pandering and false imprisonment by force, and was in custody in lieu of $145,000 bail.
Clayton, who was booked on suspicion of conspiracy, pimping and pandering, was released on a $160,000 bond.
Butler was booked on suspicion of conspiracy and pandering, and was being held on $110,000 bail.
The investigation was continuing into the involvement of the two women whose names were not released.
In November, Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced the launch of the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, led by the Human Trafficking Bureau. Since its inception, the bureau and its partner agencies have conducted five trafficking-based operations resulting in the rescues of 60 victims and the arrests of 14 trafficking suspects. Nearly 100 search warrants have been served.
Anyone with more information on the latest case was urged to call the Sheriff’s Information Bureau at (213) 229-1700, or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222- TIPS.
— Wire reports
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