Law enforcement is crediting the help of a Stockton business owner in helping bring down a sex trafficking ring operating in an unincorporated portion of a San Joaquin County.
San Joaquin County Sheriff’s investigators along with the county district attorney’s office, the Stockton Women’s Center, the Manteca Police Department and the California Highway Patrol all coordinated in the effort. The 10 hour operation took place last Friday night.
“There is a serious problem in the county and it is now just coming to light," said Ryan Biedermann, member with the San Joaquin County Sheriffs Department's Child Abuse Sexual Assault (CASA) unit who coordinated the sting operation.
In total, 10 people were arrested and another 125 were contacted in connection with the online sex trafficking operation, according to San Joaquin County sheriff’s officials. With the use of the internet, of those 125 escort service ads that officers contacted, they received about 20 responses.
“And the amount of responses to that was extremely high, and we were very successful in that aspect where we arrested two persons specifically seeking sex acts with a female juvenile 14-years-old," said Biedermann.
The operation was successful in rescuing two women, one an adult, the other a minor, “from being trafficked on the first day they were forced to perform sex through force, fear, or coercion,” according to sheriff’s officials.
The sting used a pair of youth advocates on site to assist, which were a 17-year-old and 21-year-old part of the Stockton Women's Center.
‘They were there to essentially meet with any of the victims who were identified to really offer hope and safety and to let them know that there are resources available to them," said Stockton Women's Center CEO Jennifer Jones.
Of the 10 arrested, sheriff’s officials noted four “high profile arrests” from the operation:
Richard Warden, 72, was charged with contacting and arranging to meet a minor 14 years or younger with the intent to commit a sex offense.
Daqueri Bushu, 34, was charged with contacting and arranging to meet a minor 14 years or younger for the intent to commit a sex offense.
Eric Hernandez, 18, was charged with human trafficking of a minor, pimping, and pandering.
Brittany Knapp, 27, was charged with supervising prostitution.
According to the website, dosomething.org, 80 percent of people used for human trafficking are for sex. An average teenager enters the sex trade at 12 to 14-years-old and many runaway girls are sexually abused as children.
The growing use on line to line up sex is making it more difficult to catch those in the act, but law enforcement said it will keep on doing stings in the hopes of saving more young females from a life of sexual slavery.
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