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The original item was published from 7/1/2022 8:41:00 AM to 7/1/2022 12:59:25 PM.

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Thermal Station

Posted on: July 1, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Sex Trafficking Operation


Riverside County Sheriff's Department Press Release

Reporting Deputy: Sergeant Jamie Lewis

File # LA221810012


On Tuesday, June 30, 2022, members of the Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (RCAHT) and the La Quinta Special Enforcement Team (SET) conducted a sex trafficking operation in the city of La Quinta.

RCAHT and La Quinta SET members operated in an undercover capacity, placed decoy advertisements on several popular classified advertisement websites commonly used for the solicitation of online prostitution. These same task force members then responded to prospective customers replying to these prostitution advertisements. After an agreement for paid sex acts, these “Johns” were then arrested upon their arrival at a pre-determined meeting location.

As a result of this enforcement effort, a total of 12 men and 1 woman were arrested on misdemeanor prostitution charges. Those arrested were identified as follows:

  • Omar Ignacio Cruzcruz, 44 of Indio
  • Hugo Heriberto Rodriguez, 59 of Cathedral City
  • Angel Wilberto Paredes 47 of Cathedral City
  • Efren Monroy, 45 of Palm Springs
  • Jose Daniel Aguirree, 33 of Thermal
  • Francisco Olivan Jr., 28 of Indio
  • Joseph Gayton, 36 of Visalia
  • Christian Ballard, 53 of Palm Desert
  • David Cergol, 44 of Morongo Valley
  • Jose Luis Gomez Ramos, 31 of Cathedral City
  • Alejandro Talamantes Reyes, 42 of Palm Springs
  • Krystal Vanessa Santibanez, 37 of Indio
  • Michael Gorman, 59 of Palm Desert
  • Minor male

All 13 subjects arrested were booked and released from the county jail in Indio. 1 minor subject was released to a family member.

Prostitution is not a “victimless” crime. Ninety-five percent of sex trafficking victims are women or children. Those victimized by commercial sexual exploitation frequently have long histories of emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse or trauma in their backgrounds.  The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported are likely victims of sex trafficking. Sex trafficking victims are often subjected not only to severe forms of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of their trafficker but are also frequently physically and sexually assaulted by those that solicit them for prostitution.

The Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force seeks to disrupt and dismantle sex trafficking rings operating within Riverside County and will aggressively identify, pursue, and apprehend those who seek to exploit those who are most vulnerable. Through proactive enforcement operations, RCAHT works to reduce future demand for sex trafficking by identifying and arresting sex buyers.

The Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force is asking anyone with additional information to contact RCAHT Task Force Deputy Contreras at (760) 836-1600 or call anonymously at (760) 341-STOP (7867) and reference incident # R20 336 0012.

The eastern Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force was formed in March 2020 to address crimes involving the exploitation of victims via force, fraud, or coercion in the eastern half of the Coachella Valley. These cases often involve the commercial sex trafficking of children, as well as incidents of forced labor, indentured servitude, debt bondage, or slavery. The RCAHT Task Force is a multidisciplinary task force that combines the investigative resources of both local and federal law enforcement. The RCAHT Task Force also provides victim services and education/outreach through partnerships with the non-profit groups Operation Safe House, Rebirth Homes, and Million Kids.  The law enforcement component of RCAHT is currently composed of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Riverside County Probation Department, along with part-time participation of the Hemet Police Department, Riverside Police Department, and Desert Hot Springs Police Department.

For media inquiries regarding this incident please contact the Media Information Bureau.

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