Fifteen people were arrested for prostitution related crimes following a two-day undercover operation conducted at a Lompoc hotel on September 29, 2017 and October 13, 2017 by the Lompoc Police Department, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office. The sting is part of an ongoing effort to combat Human Trafficking in Santa Barbara County. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office received a federal grant addressing Human Trafficking in late 2016, which helped make the operation possible. The funding received from the grant helps the agencies collaborate together to investigate, prosecute and provide victim services.
For this particular sting, investigators placed an online add on a publicly accessible website known for online prostitution related advertisements. The advertisement announced the availability of a female willing to engage in sexual acts in exchange for money. Once the ad was placed, an undercover detective negotiated with an inquiring person or “John”, a sexual act for an amount of money. After the negotiation, the undercover detective gave the person the location of the hotel to meet for the sex act. Once the person arrived at the location, the person was arrested for solicitation of prostitution. It should be noted, that all subjects arrested were cooperative when contacted by arresting detectives.
The following four male subjects were arrested, and booked into the Lompoc Police Department Jail for violation of solicitation of prostitution on September 29, 2017.
30-year-old Anibal Santos of Buellton
38-year-old Victor Juarez of Oxnard
31-year-old Rigoberto Ramirez of Carpinteria
54-year-old Lester Keebler of Lompoc
The following eight male subjects were arrested, and booked into the Lompoc Police Department Jail for violation of solicitation of prostitution on October 13, 2017.
33-year-old Mark Kempthorne of Lompoc
60-year-old Albert Sicoli of Santa Ynez
22-year-old Marcos Flores of Lompoc
21-year-old Thomas Lee of Isla Vista
56-year-old Randell Gonzales of Lompoc
33-year-old Jose Bedolla of Lompoc
28-year-old Sergio Lopez of Lompoc
60-year-old Pedro Rico of Lompoc
The following two male subjects were arrested during the October 13, 2017 operation and booked for additional narcotic related charges since the suspects had negotiated a sex act in exchange for methamphetamine.
35-year-old Kenneth Batiste of Lompoc was booked on charges of solicitation of prostitution, possession of methamphetamine for sale, transportation of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and conspiracy. 54-year-old Robert Forren of Lompoc was booked on charges of solicitation of prostitution, possession of methamphetamine for sale, transportation of methamphetamine, and conspiracy.
22-year-old Flavio Gomez of Santa Maria was arrested during the October 13, 2017 operation when he arrived at the location after negotiating a sex act with a person he believed was under the age of 18. He was booked at the jail on charges of arriving to meet a minor for a lewd purpose and for solicitation of prostitution.
The Santa Barbara County Human Trafficking Task Force will continue to conduct these types of stings and other human trafficking related stings throughout Santa Barbara County. Over the years, the number of online prostitution related advertisements have grown substantially. A majority of the women who engage in prostitution are victims of various types of abuse and/or human trafficking. One issue that drives human trafficking is the demand for women to engage in prostitution. By conducting this type of operation, the intention is to deter people or the “Johns” from searching for a prostitute, thereby reducing the demand and hopefully reducing the amount of women who fall victim to the abuse of human trafficking.