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Anaheim police uncovered a child sex trafficking operation in Orange County, where 14- and 17-year-old girls were discovered prostituting for a couple who advertised them online. Police think there may be more victims. Vikki Vargas reports from Anaheim for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on May 23, 2012.
Anaheim police uncovered a child sex trafficking operation in Orange County, and think there may be more victims.
A federal grand jury has indicted a couple on charges of selling the sexual services of two girls, ages 14 and 17.
Detectives say they stayed in motels, paid for their rooms in cash and hired out the two teenagers as prostitutes.
According to a federal complaint, the suspects advertised the girls on websites like myredbook.com, claiming they were 19 years old. They were actually 14 and 17.
Some of the posted photos were real, many were not.
FBI agents say in a span of nine days, Eric Wells and Tonisha Moore crossed three state lines, taking the underage girls with them.
Officials say the couple met the teens in Las Vegas on April 15. Two days later, the foursome drove to phoenix where Wells and Moore advertised the girls online again. By April 21, the group had moved on to Anaheim.
Anaheim police discovered the 14 year old working near the CVS drugstore on Beach Boulevard.
She told authorities she’d been staying at a Travelodge up the street.
Two days after that, Wells and Moore were tracked to a Sacramento motel room where they were arrested and charged with interstate trafficking of children for prostitution.
The FBI believes there may be other underage victims.
“These children lost their identity a long time ago, if they’re attracted to these bad situations. It’s a sense of home for them,” FBI spokeswoman Cathy Kramer said.
Detectives tracked more ads linked to the suspects on backpage.com, where the girls used names like Fendi and Layla.
“To me if anybody is selling themselves for money they’re a victim. It’s more egregious if they’re underage. They’re children,” Kramer said.
The couple faces life in prison if convicted.