VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF NEWS STORY GEOFF DEAN, SHERIFF www.VCSD.org
Nature of Incident: Human Trafficking Arrest Report Number: 18-44512 Location: City of Camarillo – multiple locations Date & Time: 3/21/2018 @ 8:00 PM Unit(s) Responsible: Special Crimes Unit, Major Crimes Unit, Narcotics Unit, Camarillo Police Department (S)uspects, (V)ictims, (P)arty, (D)ecedent City of Residence Age (S) James Powell (V) Adult Female (V) Adult Female (V) Juvenile Female (V) Juvenile Female (V) Juvenile Female Sacramento, CA Rohnert Park, CA Sacramento, CA Sacramento, CA Sacramento, CA Sacramento, CA 31 22 20 17 16 14
Narrative: On March 20th and 21st 2018, detectives with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation that led to the arrest of one suspect and discovery of 3 juvenile and 2 adult human trafficking victims.
On March 20, 2018, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office received information from a Citrus Heights Police Department detective about a 14-year-old female runaway that may be in the Camarillo area. The detective believed the 14-year-old girl was possibly a victim of Human Trafficking based on an internet post with a picture of the 14-year-old female advertising sexual services.
Camarillo Patrol deputies began checking lodging establishments in Camarillo and located the 14-year-old female along with a 17-year-old female and a 22-year-old female in a hotel in Camarillo. Detectives from the Special Crimes Unit and Major Crimes Unit responded to begin an investigation.
Detectives conducted interviews, obtained a search warrant for the hotel room, conducted a search of the hotel room and collected evidence. Based on all of the evidence and information obtained during the investigation, detectives determined the females were being sexually exploited and were victims of human trafficking. Detectives determined there was a 16- year-old juvenile female, a 20-year-old adult female and the suspect that were unaccounted for.
Detectives were concerned for the safety of the two females and obtained assistance from the Page 2 of 2 Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit and Camarillo Police Department Special Enforcement Detail. Detectives from these investigative units continued with the investigation and search for the two females.
After approximately 24 hours of ongoing investigation and searching, the 16-year-old juvenile victim was located in the Sacramento area, the 20-year-old female was found with the suspect, James Powell, preparing to check into a hotel in Manhattan Beach. Powell was arrested and transported back to Ventura County where he was booked into the Ventura County Jail on human trafficking charges with a bail set at $510,000.00.
The District Attorney’s Office filed 2 counts of human trafficking 236.1(c)(2) PC and 2 counts of human trafficking 236.1(a) PC on Powell. A Preliminary Hearing for Powell is scheduled for April 6th 2018 in Ventura Superior Court. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office has a dedicated human trafficking investigator assigned to the Special Crimes Unit. This investigative unit is responsible for investigating various criminal organizations operating throughout Ventura County.
The Sheriff’s Office investigates human trafficking cases with a victim centered approach as these victims are often in need of additional resources because they lack a support base. The Sheriff’s Office teams up with public and private organizations to bridge the gap in resources for these victims. In this particular case, Interface and the Federal Bureau of Investigations victim services unit provided assistance to the victims in this case.
Prepared by: Sergeant Jason Hendren News Release Date: March 29, 2018 Media Follow-Up Contact: Detective Aaron Grass 805-383-8753 Aaron.Grass@Ventura.org Approved by: Captain Robert Thomas Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).
The notice must be posted in a conspicuous area accessible to the general public, either near the public entrance of the business or in another location where similar notices are customarily posted but in clear view of both employees and the public. The penalty for violating the human trafficking posting requirement is $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense. The law allows enforcement by government agencies, but is silent on private enforcement.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is presenting a St. Josephine Bakhita Day Webinar, “Become a Shepherd: Stop Human Trafficking and Exploitation; Protest, Help, Empower, and Restore Dignity.” It will take place on Thursday, February 8, at 10:00 a.m. The webinar will assist parishes and dioceses interested in launching anti-trafficking ministries, as well as parishes and dioceses seeking to move from awareness-raising to action. The U.S.C.C.B. hopes participants will feel less trepidation and greater enthusiasm about prioritizing human trafficking as a vital social justice/respect life issue. The U.S.C.C.B. also wants to equip participants with a wide variety of practical and replicable ideas for engaging parishioners and local community members in this issue. Three parishes and one diocese (including St. Joseph Parish in Long Beach) will be featured and participate in this webinar.