RIVERSIDE: Girl, 15, safely recovered, 3 adults arrested during human trafficking investigation
RIVERSIDE — Officials have announced the rescue of a 15-year-old girl and arrest of three adults as part of an ongoing investigation into nationwide human trafficking. The Tuesday evening, Dec. 5 arrests and victim’s safe recovery happened at the Riverside Inn & Suites at 10705 Magnolia Avenue in Riverside.
The teen victim, who has not been publicly named because of her age and victim status, was identified as a runaway from the Fresno area who had been missing for the past month.
Over a four-week time-span, officials found no less than twenty-two separate prostitution-related online classified advertisements depicting the child throughout numerous Southern California counties; including the counties of Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego, Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant John Sawyer explained after the arrests.
The investigation began after members of the Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force received information from the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force as to the potential whereabouts of the missing girl, according to Sawyer.
“RCAHT Task Force Officers, working cooperatively with the Riverside Police Department’s Vice Unit, located a recent prostitution posting that appeared to depict photos of the missing child,” said Sawyer.
Acting in an undercover capacity, officers replied to the advertisement while posing as a prospective sex-buyer and they negotiated with the adults holding the teenager for an act of prostitution.
Officials were directed to the motel where the victim was located and immediately taken into protective custody.
During their investigation, RCAHT members and Riverside PD Vice Unit officers located and detained three adults in one of the motel’s first-floor rooms. All three were reportedly involved in trafficking the minor for prostitution purposes.
As a result of their investigation, officials arrested the three adults, who were identified as 18-year-old, Gabriella Ann Alvarado and 20-year-old, Ramon Avina Chavez. Both are residents of Fresno. Officials also arrested 21-year-old, Alicia Monet Thao, of Viola.
All three adults were later booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside on various charges related to the investigation, according to Sawyer.
Alvarado was booked on suspicion of human trafficking of a minor and pimping of a minor.
Chavez was booked on suspicion of human trafficking of a minor, pimping of a minor, and several charges related to his possession of a loaded, concealable firearm with obliterated serial numbers.
Thao was booked on suspicion of human trafficking of a minor and pandering.
An online jail records search revealed all three suspects remain in custody and bail for each has been set at $500,000. They are scheduled to be arraigned at the Riverside Hall of Justice, Dec. 8.
The Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force is a multidisciplinary task force which combines the investigative resources of both local and federal law enforcement and was formed in 2010 to address crimes involving the exploitation of victims via force, fraud, or coercion.
These cases often involve the commercial sex trafficking of children, as well as incidents of forced labor, indentured servitude, debt bondage, or slavery.
The RCAHT Task Force also provides victim services and education/outreach through partnerships with the non-profit groups Operation SafeHouse and Million Kids.
The law enforcement component of RCAHT is currently composed of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Riverside County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, along with the part-time participation of the Hemet Police Department and Riverside Police Department.
The investigation is active and ongoing.
Anyone with additional information regarding this case is encouraged to contact Sheriff’s Investigator Brian Robertson at (951) 955-1700 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Callers can refer to incident file number R173390007 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.
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Trevor Montgomery, who recently moved from Riverside County to Shasta County, runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident.
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 grandchildren.