Photo by Gustavo Castillo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Gustavo Castillo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A 21-year-old Yorba Linda man has been charged with human trafficking, raping, pimping and pandering a 15-year-old girl from the Midwest, authorities said.

Elozona Ogbechie was charged Thursday with one felony count each of human trafficking a minor, pandering a minor under 16 years old by promise, threat or violence to become a prostitute, forcible rape and using, inducing or furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, according to Huntington Beach police and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

If convicted, Ogbechie faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in state prison.

Two other men — 22-year-old Marcellus Alphonso Carpenter of Diamond Bar and 20-year-old Phillip Anthony Gallegos of Fullerton, were charged on Jan. 27 with trafficking, pimping and pandering the same victim, officials said.

The Huntington Beach Police Department and FBI began investigating the case when someone from the victim’s hometown informed them the victim, whose parents reported her missing on Jan. 3, might be living in the area. She was located on Jan. 23 at a motel in Fullerton and has since been reunited with her family, authorities said.

Gallegos, who was introduced to the victim by his girlfriend, is accused of traveling with the girl from the Midwest to Orange County around Jan. 9, police and prosecutors said.

She arrived around Jan. 13, at which time Gallegos allegedly took her “to meet Ogbechie and Carpenter, who are accused of pandering the girl by convincing her to engage in commercial sex acts with the promise that she would receive money and a better life,” according to a statement issued by police and prosecutors.

Carpenter and Ogbechie allegedly posted “sexually suggestive ads of the victim as a prostitute on the Internet” and rented motel rooms throughout Orange County to be used by the girl during acts of prostitution, authorities said.

“The defendants are accused of pimping the victim by receiving support from the money she received from performing commercial sex acts,” according to the statement. “The support including convincing the victim to purchase food, drugs and pay for the rental of motel rooms …”

Ogebchie, Carpenter and Gallegos are also accused of forcibly raping the girl and all three men are accused of providing her with cocaine, officials said.

Ogbechie, who was arrested on Tuesday, was being held without bail, as was Gallegos, who was arrested on Jan. 23, according to Orange County sheriff’s online inmate information.

Both men were due in court in Fullerton on March 13, according to the sheriff’s department, which listed Gallegos’ name as Phillip A. Esteves. The cause of that discrepancy was unclear.

Carpenter, who was also arrested on Jan. 23, was being held in lieu of $250,000 bail and was next due in court in Fullerton on April 1, according to the sheriff’s department.

—City News Service

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