Category Archives: News

TCDA involved in six sex trafficking cases in 2016

The Tulare County District Attorney’s Office has been actively investigating and prosecuting cases of human trafficking.

At the Tulare County Human Trafficking Taskforce meeting on June 22, the District Attorneys office shared that they have filed five cases against seven defendants in 2016. Additionally, one case filed in 2015 is in sentencing. The Tulare County District Attorney’s Office is also currently investigating two other sex trafficking cases involving minors.

On June 3, a Tulare man plead guilty to charges involving child sex trafficking. The TCDA’s Office sent out this release:

Today in Department 4 of the Tulare County Superior Court, Visalia Division, Judge Brett Aldredge presiding, Anthony Lott, age 24, of Tulare, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of human trafficking of minors for a sex act, two felony counts of pandering by procuring a minor over the age of 16, one felony count of pimping, one felony count of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle, and a misdemeanor count of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle in a city limit.

On October 6, 2015 the Tulare Police Department was conducting a human trafficking operation at a local hotel. Officers observed a vehicle enter the parking lot of the hotel and saw a female exit the car while the male driver, Lott, remained in the car. The female offered an undercover officer sex in exchange for money. While Lott remained in the car, he was contacted by law enforcement and was found to be in possession of a loaded firearm.

Lott was arrested for pimping and having possession of a loaded firearm. After further investigation which was conducted by the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations, Investigator Martha Rodriguez was able to make connections that Lott had trafficked two minors from the Tulare area between the dates of November 1, 2013 and November 1, 2014. With additional investigation by the Office of the District Attorney, on February 22, 2016, Lott was charged with two counts of human trafficking of a minor for a sex act and two counts of pandering by procuring a minor over the age of 16.

On June 29, 2016, Lott will be sentenced to 7 years 4 months state prison and will be ordered to register for life as a sex offender.

“I commend law enforcement for being diligent in this case and bringing justice to the victims,” said District Attorney Tim Ward. “Human trafficking is real, and it can happen in any community. If you suspect a person is being exploited for sex or labor, contact law enforcement immediately.”

The case was prosecuted by Supervising Deputy District Attorney Cindy Underwood of the Special Crimes Division. It was investigated by Officer Rosemarie Pacheco and Detective Vince Medina of the Tulare Police Department, as well as Investigator Martha Rodriguez of the Office of the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations.

 

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Tulare DA’s office offers human trafficking presentations

From the Tulare County District Attorney’s office’s Facebook page:

As part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, District Attorney Ward had the opportunity to present an overview of trafficking to the Visalia Republican Women Federated. If you are a civic group or service club looking to learn more about this important topic, contact their office at (559) 636-5494.

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From the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office Facebook page

Tour Against Trafficking a Success In Tulare County!

The Tour Against Trafficking brought $450 from Tulare County riders to services in Tulare County through Family Services of Tulare County! The bulk was raised by Steve Sureweic.

On October 8, riders were greeted by children in Tulare, organized by  St. John’s Episcopal Church.

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Riders and welcoming kids at Tulare stop. credit: Tour Against Trafficking
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Tulare stop at St. John’s Episcopal Church
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Visalia organizer Rev. Suzy Ward of the St. Paul Episcopal Church.

The next day, a crowd celebrated the riders and the collaborative effort to fight trafficking at the Police Officer’s Memorial Park, where proclamations were make by local leaders.  We are grateful for everyone who came out and supported this effort to bring awareness to the reality of human trafficking in Tulare County!

Proclamation

Check out the Fresno Bee’s article on the Tour, which includes a picture in Tulare County,  here!

See more local pictures, and those of the rest of the tour, including a video of the Tulare children on the Tour Against Trafficking Facebook page.

Also follow the Tour blog on the official website.

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Fresno Men Plea Guilt of Minor Sex Trafficking

From the Fresno Bee, Thursday, May 7, 2015:

Two Fresno men pleaded guilty to sex trafficking charges in federal court Thursday after they were arrested in December 2013 for forcing two teenage girls to prostitute themselves, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said.

Michael Anthony Andrade, 34, and Javier Solis, 29, forced the two girls, 15 and 17, to perform sexual acts against their will in Fresno and San Luis Obispo in 2013, Wagner said. The men also forced the 15-year-old to tattoo their nicknames on her shoulders.

Wagner said that the 17-year-old, a runaway, was brought home by her parents in October 2013. She told Fresno police that the 15-year-old was still being held by Andrade and Solis in a hotel room in San Luis Obispo. Officers from the San Luis Obispo Police Department picked the 15-year-old up shortly after.

Andrade will be sentenced on Aug. 10, and Solis is scheduled for Aug. 17. Both face a penalty of 10 years to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Opportunity To Support Bill To Fine Sex Buyers/ Support Survivors

Authors of a state senate bill, currently in the state legislature, seeks to create a minimum fine for sex buyers and provide funds for  services to survivors.

Senate Bill 776, created by Senator Marty Block, San Diego, would create an amendment to the Section 647 of the Penal Code and include:

– Mandatory fine of $700-$2,000 (in addition to other penalties) to sex buyers
– Allocate portion of fees to fund shelter, counseling, and other direct services and exit programs for victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sexual abuse

Currrently, the bill has been set for hearing May 12.

View proposed Senate Bill 776 here

California Against Slavery (the organization behind Prop 37 that created the 2012 human trafficking law) is inviting supporters to get involved in their “Lobby  Day 2015” to support the bill.

Lobby Day takes place at the California State Capitol in Sacramento on Wed., June 17, 2015 from 9:30am to 4:00pm. Participants can speak to their  representative’s office and are encouraged to personally voice support for SB 776 and anti-trafficking efforts. Cost is $10 for lunch and materials. Sign up here

“Lobby Day is an empowering event where you can speak to your legislators’ offices and personally voice your support for anti-trafficking efforts. Groups and families welcomed!” states CAS in their latest campaign. “Training is provided and no experience necessary, we need volunteer advocates from all across California!”

For those who can’t make Lobby Day, they have several ways to get involved:

  • “Lobby from Home” June 1st to June 12th CAS will mail supporters a packet of postcards  to sign and mail in. CAS asks that participants share with friends and family who can mail in the cards themselves. Email requests with your name, mailing address, and number of postcards needed to info@californiaagainstslavery.org
  • “Sponsor an Advocate” Help sponsor survivor advocates to Lobby Day. Each contribution will help to cover travel costs. Make a donation here, and add a note: “sponsorship.

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Sign Up To Be A Resource On New App

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Click on the image to sign up and get more info on the GraceCity app

Are you , your business, or organization in the Central Valley and do you or could you provide a service to assist those who have survived exploitation or those at risk?
(Not sure? See list of needed services here)

Tulare, Fresno, Kern, and Madera Counties have been added to the GraceCity app, a centralized, user-friendly mobile resource app allowing first responders immediate access to long and short term services for exploited and at-risk individuals.

This app will be used by those working with those at-risk or affected by human trafficking and is a major asset in successfully preventing human trafficking and helping survivors to thrive beyond human human trafficking.

We need all those who might have a useful service to sign up in order for the GraceCity app to provide the benefits for which it was designed. 

Who should sign up?

This includes primary services, such as health services, social services, mental health services, pro-bono legal services, dental care, housing, etc.

This ALSO includes services that help clients make a new life and thrive outside exploitation, such  as child care, job training, tattoo removal, beauty services, tutoring, mentoring, life skills training,  etc.

If you know of or are an organization that is interested in being a part of this app, please go to http://www.thegracenetwork.org/resource/ and click the pink agency registration flag in the top right hand corner, labelled, “Join The Fight.”

For more details from us about signing up, visit our GraceCity App FAQ page.

Note: The GraceCity app is currently available to download on iPhone and Android. Central Valley resources have not yet been launched.