Authorities believe there may be more human trafficking victims out there after they arrested two men in Long Beach on suspicion of forcing a teenage girl and two women into prostitution against their wills.
Lebrette Winn, 22, and Eric Avery, 24, both of Long Beach, were arrested May 15 during a traffic stop near Pine Avenue and Bay Street in Long Beach.
After a week long investigation, police learned the men allegedly held two adult women against their will and forced them into prostitution. They found another possible victim, a 16-year-old girl, at a motel in Los Angeles.
Human trafficking, pimping, kidnapping and mayhem are among the eleven felony charges the men are facing. One victim, who was held against her will for as long as four months was sexually assaulted, police said.
"That was one of his ways of saying, that's the punishment you'll get if you try to leave me," said Lt. Dan Pratt, of the Long Beach Police Department.
The victim, police said, mustered the courage to escape from a Culver City motel and find her way to a Hawthorne police station.
"In this case, the suspects left them alone for a long enough period of time that one of the victims felt confident this was their time to leave," Pratt said. "The suspects had made threats that they were going to take them further out of the area and that really frightened the victims, and they said, 'This is our chance. We've got to go now,' and that's when they left."
While neither men have extensive criminal histories, police said they do believe there are several more victims out there.
"When pimps have a group of girls, they require a certain amount of money to stay afloat. They have to pay for motel rooms, car, gas food clothing," Pratt said. "So they have to have more than one girl, so they continue to operate with as many females as they can get and over that course of time, and they have to replace them."
Winn and Avery are scheduled to appear in Long Beach Superior Court for a preliminary hearing on June 4.