3 arrested for sex trafficking operation that spanned California coast

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Three suspects ended up behind bars Wednesday on suspicion of running a sex trafficking operation that stretched from Orange and Los Angeles counties up to the Bay Area.

Detectives said the trio's victim - a young woman from South Los Angeles - was recruited by her friend, Monique Butler.

According to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Capt. Merrill Landenheim with the Human Trafficking Bureau, Butler convinced the victim they were going to celebrate Butler's birthday. But when the young girl met up with Butler, suspects Chad Miller and Rico Clayton were also there and picked up the victim.

"She's 20-years-old - never involved in the criminal justice system - who worked in a mall, went to school and like so many young people, enjoyed making new friends," Sheriff Jim McDonnell.

McDonnell detailed the investigation, which involved tracking the victim from a location in Paramount then to Oakland where she was given a nickname and posted on a website for sexual exploitation.

Authorities also released the victim's frantic phone to call her mom, which the girl made four days after she arrived in Oakland.

"She said that she was being held against her will, was scared and needed help," Ladenheim said.

Just hours after the call, the victim was found in a motel room on Beach Boulevard in Buena Park, unharmed.

The investigation led authorities to Miller and Clayton, who are facing several charges that include pimping and for Miller, false imprisonment by force.

McDonnell said the suspects arrested are only a small fraction of those involved in human trafficking in Los Angeles County.

Since last November, a special task force has conducted five operations, which have resulted in 14 arrests and 60 rescues. Their ages range from 14 to 17 years old.

"These are predators, pedophiles and somebody who's out there looking to do potentially any one of our kids harm," McDonnell said.
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.