Crime

Six arrested in Merced County sex trafficking sting, deputies say

The difference between prostitution and sex trafficking

According to experts, it's important to understand the differences between prostitution, which is voluntary, and sex trafficking, which can trap victims with involuntary sex work.
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According to experts, it's important to understand the differences between prostitution, which is voluntary, and sex trafficking, which can trap victims with involuntary sex work.

Six people from Dos Palos, Santa Nella and Fresno were arrested Thursday night during a prostitution and sex trafficking sting operation, Merced County deputies said.

Investigators with the Merced County Sheriff’s Office’s STAR team, along with the Merced Police Department’s Disruptive Area Response Team and Gang Violence Suppression Unit, were informed about a “prostitution forum” and some websites, including online dating sites, being used for sex trafficking, Deputy Daryl Allen said.

Investigators made fake online profiles and were able to lure several individuals at about 7 p.m. Thursday to a motel in the Santa Nella area, Allen said.

Two 18-year-old woman reportedly arrived at the motel with their pimps after sex acts were agreed upon over the phone, according to a news release. They were met by investigators, who placed them into custody without any incidents.

One of the suspected pimps also was in possession of a loaded Glock 17 handgun with a 30-round extended magazine, the release states.

The six people arrested, according to the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, included:

  • Anthony Chandler, 47, Fresno, arrested on suspicion of pimping, pandering, possessing a large capacity magazine and tampering with the firearm serial number. He was in custody Friday on $115,500 bond.
  • Yonatan Arena, 22, of Fresno, was arrested on suspicion of pimping and pandering, and was out of custody Friday.

CP Prostitution Sting _fitted 2.jpeg
Courtesy Merced County Sheriff's Office

  • Jinnah Conley, 18, of Fresno, was arrested on suspicion of prostitution and was in custody Friday on $500 bond.

CP Prostitution Sting _fitted 3.jpeg
Courtesy Merced County Sheriff's Office

  • Virginia Lerma, 47, of Dos Palos, was arrested on suspicion of prostitution and was out of custody Friday.

CP Prostitution Sting _fitted 4.jpeg
Courtesy Merced County Sheriff's Office

  • Daniel Gilmore, 57, of Santa Nella, was arrested on suspicion of prostitution and was out of custody Friday.
  • Madison Martens, 21, of Fresno, was arrested on suspicion of prostitution and was out of custody Friday.
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