For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
TWELVE SEX PURCHASERS CONVICTED OF AGREEING TO ENGAGE IN SEX ACTS WITH WOMAN WHOM THEY BELIEVED TO BE PROSTITUTE
SANTA ANA – Twelve sex purchasers were convicted and sentenced yesterday for agreeing to engage in sex acts with a woman whom they believed to be a prostitute. Raul Ambrosio, 27, Orange, Flavio Bernal, 40, Orange, Jose Rodolfo Castillo, 47, Santa Ana, Fortunato Contreras, 41, Santa Ana, Omar Arreola Gonzalez, 21, Garden Grove, Juan Jimenez Ochoa, 28, Santa Ana, Jonathan Ramirez, 28, Santa Ana, Pedro Roman, 42, Irvine, Misael Sanchez, 44, Lake Forest, Juan Daniel Soto, 30, Santa Ana, Jose Rosario Velasco, 64, Santa Ana, Mario Velazquez, 31, Santa Ana, each pleaded guilty yesterday, Sept. 23, 2013, to one misdemeanor count of agreeing to engage in prostitution. Roman also pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of driving a vehicle without a valid license. The defendants in this case were sentenced to three years of informal probation, 10 days in jail with the possibility of CalTrans in lieu of jail, donations to the Victim/Witness Emergency Fund, and must submit to AIDS testing and education.
On July 16, 2013, the defendants drove up to an undercover officer, whom they believed to be a prostitute, near the area of 1400 East First Street in Santa Ana. The defendants agreed to engage in sex acts with the officer for a price ranging from $20 to $100. The defendants and the victim arranged to meet in a motel and were arrested by officers from the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD). The defendants in this case were arrested as part of a covert operation by SAPD in which 12 defendants were arrested for soliciting sex.
The area of 1400 East First Street in Santa Ana is known to law enforcement to be a high-prostitution area and is known to frequently be used by individuals who sexually exploit and traffic women and underage girls for financial gain, including pimps, panderers, and human traffickers.
These cases were prosecuted by the Orange County District Attorney’s Human Exploitation And Trafficking (HEAT) Unit, which targets perpetrators who sexually exploit and traffic women and underage girls for financial gain, including pimps, panderers, and human traffickers. Commercial sex trafficking is the second most lucrative criminal enterprise behind narcotics trafficking. Often the perpetrators are gang members and/or career criminals.
The HEAT Unit also targets defendants who create a demand for prostitution by soliciting and purchasing sex, which increases the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children. The HEAT Unit uses a tactical plan called PERP: Prosecution of human trafficking perpetrators and sex purchasers; Education for law enforcement to properly handle human trafficking and pandering cases; Resources to raise public awareness and provide assistance to the victims; and Publicity to inform the community about the problem and notify human traffickers and sex purchasers that this crime cannot be perpetrated without suffering severe consequences.
The OCDA announced in April 2013 that he will publicize the names of defendant