3 arrested on suspicion of human trafficking across Los Angeles

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016
AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) -- Three people were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking Thursday after authorities issued search warrants at five locations across Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force arrested Michael Shaw, 36, of Santa Clarita, Eric Hamwey, 31, of Encino and Ashley Peart, 26, of Santa Clarita.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies with the Santa Clarita station learned Shaw allegedly trafficked an adult victim for sex and had violently assaulted her when she tried to flee. Authorities said Shaw fled from a location that had issued a call for service before deputies arrived.

Task force detectives learned that Hamwey had befriended the victim on Instagram and flew her out to California from Texas for the purpose of commercial adult sex work. Soon after bringing her to the state, Hamwey sold the victim to Shaw.

After the victim was trafficked by Shaw for several weeks, she tried to flee from him and that's when he violently assaulted her, authorities said. Peart is suspected of robbing the victim after the assault. The victim sustained serious injuries in the attack.

Around 7 a.m. Thursday, task force personnel and Santa Clarita deputies served search warrants at two locations in the area. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office bureau of investigation issued search warrants at locations in North Hollywood and Encino, while LAPD detectives issued one at a second location in Encino.

During the searches, a second female adult victim was discovered and all three suspects were arrested. More than 100 items of evidence were recovered, including three handguns, cash, computers and several cellphones.

The suspects were booked at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station on suspicion of sex trafficking. Shaw is being held in lieu of $300,000 bail, Hamwey in lieu of $200,000 bail and Peart in lieu of $50,000.

On Monday, the L.A. District Attorney's Office filed two counts of human trafficking and one count of dissuading a witness against Shaw. He faces up to more than 25 years in state prison if convicted.

Hamwey and Peart were charged with one count of human trafficking and both face up to 20 years in state prison.