KINGS COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Detectives with the Kings County Sheriff’s Office arrested 16 men in a sex-trafficking sting called, “Operation Link Up,” which targeted human trafficking and sexual predators within the Central Valley.
Several different agencies within the area helped the Kings County Sheriff’s Office with the three-day sting, which took place from Aug. 26 to Aug. 28.
The multi-agency operation included help from the Hanford Police Department, Lemoore Police Department, Kings County District Attorney’s Office, Kings County Major Crimes Task Force, and the California Department of Justice Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension Team.
Officials say during “Operation Link Up,” officials from participating agencies posed as 13-year-old and 16-year-old juveniles on various social media sites.
Over the course of the operation, authorities say 16 different adult individuals made contact with the decoy juveniles and asked them for sexual acts.
According to officials, all 16 suspects agreed to meet the underaged decoys at several locations within Kings County to commit the sexual act.
The Kings County Sheriff’s Office says those arrested in the sting included:
- Edward Zuniga, 35 of Hanford
- Christian Loeffler, 35 of Lemoore
- Miguel Guarchaj Gomes, 29 of Visalia
- Timothy Rankin, 60 of Exeter
- Netzahaulcoyotyl Trujillo, 39 of Hanford
- Josefat Gutierrez, 46 of Hanford
- Jose Huerta Garcia, 36 of Hanford
- Domingo Martinez, 34 of Yettem
- John Cha, 22 of Fresno
- Alberto G. Martinez, 34 of Yettem
- Chris Raymond Brown, 40 of Hanford
- David Spry Burks, 20 of Hanford
- Phillip Noe Sesate, 19 of Hanford
- Luis Morales, 22 of Lemoore
- Sergio J. Cervantes-Serna, 47 of Hanford
- Samuel Mendoza, 39 of Visalia
Deputies say all suspects have been arrested and booked into the Kings County Jail on various charges related to arranging to meet a minor for sexual acts, sending sexually explicit materials to a minor, and meeting at an agreed-upon location for sexual acts.
Deputies also say that during the operation, detectives with the Lemoore Police Department posed as adults looking to be paid for sexual acts on multiple social media outlets.
Officials say during the operation, Eric A, Jauregui, 33 of Hanford, was arrested for soliciting prostitution.
The Kings County Sheriff’s Department says they would like to remind parents to monitor their children’s online activity to help prevent these crimes from taking place.