15 arrested in Merced human trafficking sting

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MERCED, Calif. (KSEE) — More than a dozen people are facing charges for sex crimes in Merced after a three day human trafficking sting.

The operation ran last Thursday to Saturday and Sgt. Daniel Dabney said officers arrested a total of 15 people.

“It’s like shooting fish in a barrel unfortunately. We put out an add and they just immediately start responding,” he said.

Undercover officers at three different hotels used various websites to post and respond to ads, they were looking to attract both Johns and pimps.

The goal of the operation was to save some victims forced into the sex trade. Dabney runs the Disruptive Area Response Team, or DART. He said one of the victims was a teenage girl.

“She had been trafficked all throughout the various counties between here and Visalia. So you know, it’s a sad situation. She just recently turned 17 so she’s not old at all,” he said.

Included in the arrests were 26-year-old Eric Washington and 29-year-old Deshawn Brown of Visalia both accused of pimping the young woman.

Officers said many children are forced into this after being coerced, drugged and beaten and anyone soliciting prostitution only fuels the fire.

“If you know of people who are doing that, tell them to please stop. As they support prostitution they’re supporting the abuse of young women and men,” Dabney said.

The Merced County District Attorneys Office, Homeland Security and Department of Justice all assisted with the operation, and Dabney is asking others to join the fight too.

“These young children are being abused and it could be your neighbor. So if you see something say something. We appreciate that and we’ll do our best to try to save a life,” he said.

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