For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
TWO SEX PURCHASERS CONVICTED FOR SOLICITING SEX FROM WOMAN WHOM THEY BELIEVED TO BE PROSTITUTE
SANTA ANA – Two sex purchasers were convicted and sentenced Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, for soliciting sex from a woman whom they believed to be a prostitute. Baltazar Fernandez, 60, Riverside, and Francisco Cortez Santiago, 30, Santa Ana, each pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of agreeing to engage in prostitution. Both defendants 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.
At approximately 4:40 a.m. on May 8, 2013, Santiago pulled up in his car alongside a woman whom he believed to be a prostitute on Harbor Boulevard and Washington Avenue in Santa Ana. Santiago spoke with the woman briefly before she entered his vehicle and drove off. A Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) officer witnessed the interaction and arrested the defendant for soliciting sex in exchange for money.
At approximately 2:00 p.m. on May 28, 2013, Fernandez was arrested by officers from SAPD for soliciting sex or sex acts from an undercover female officer, whom he believed to be a prostitute. Fernandez drove up to the undercover officer in the area of 1400 East First Street in Santa Ana and solicited sex in exchange for money.
The areas of 1400 East First Street and Harbor Boulevard and Washington Avenue in Santa Ana, an area 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
These case 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.