According to the Ventura County Sheriff, seven people were arrested (and two are currently being sought) in connection with a human trafficking ring that was being run out of several Southern California businesses in three separate counties.
In January, police in Ventura County received reports that a human trafficking ring, which provided both sex services and labor services, was being operated out of several skincare businesses and massage parlors in the county. The businesses were all owned by the same family residing in Inland Empire and worked under phony names in three counties: Ventura, San Bernardino, and Riverside. The businesses being operated were fronts for human trafficking, and a boutique was used to launder the funds received.
Many of the victims targeted were recent arrivals from Mexico, with some in possession of refugee visas.
The women were recruited and then the traffickers placed ads on several internet sites that detailed the cost and various services (both labor and sexual) that were available. The ads contained pictures of the victims.
Human Trafficking is covered under California Penal Code 236.1 PC and is described in three ways: depriving someone of their personal liberty with the intent to obtain forced services or labor from them, depriving someone of their personal liberty with the intent to violate California’s pimping and pandering laws, California’s child pornography laws, California’s laws against extortion and blackmail, or certain other laws having to do with commercial sexual activity, OR persuading or trying to persuade a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, with the intent of violating the same laws listed above.
Human trafficking is always a felony under California Law, and the penalties are harsh. Those convited of human trafficking in an attempt to obtain forced labor services face 5 to 12 years in California state prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Those looking to obtain forced sexual services face 8 to 20 years in state prison, and those who are convicted of persuading a minor to commit a commercial sex act, especially if force or violence is used, face 5 years to 15 years to life in prison.