California

‘Not here to criminalize them.’ Many of 33 caught in prostitution sting offered help.

A three-day, three-site operation to combat human trafficking resulted in the arrest of 33 people last week, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department announced Tuesday.

The fifth annual Operation Rebuild and Reclaim was conducted simultaneously Thursday through Saturday by agencies statewide, said Stanislaus County Deputy Casey Cooper, who led the effort locally. “We’ve done operations like this in the past and they’ve been pretty successful in identifying victims and suspects,” said Cooper, who is the community resource deputy for Patterson. “I went to a training a few months back and someone mentioned Operation Rebuild and Reclaim. It’s a great collaboration” under the banner of the Los Angeles Police Department.

In Stanislaus, the operation targeted prostitution at the Clarion Inn Conference Center at 1612 Sisk Road in Modesto, the Travelodge at 201 W. Glenwood Ave. in Turlock and the Motel 6 at 7115 McCraken Road in Westley. All three were aware of prostitution taking place in their rooms and appear committed to combating it, Cooper said. The motels provided rooms for authorities to conduct the three-day operation.

It involved sheriff’s detectives and deputies with Patterson Police Services, Waterford Police Services, Riverbank Police Services and the Adult Detention Division. They were assisted by state parole officers, county probation officers, Turlock police officers and the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office.

The 33 people arrested were contacted using various websites commonly used for prostitution. The sites, which operate like Craigslist, have sections for services advertised as dating, escorts and the like, Cooper said. “You would peruse your area, and we picked out those who appeared to be younger-looking victims,” he said.

The focus was on finding juveniles and missing young people who are at risk. The 33 arrested in Stanislaus included a 19-year-old and a few people in their early 20s, but no juveniles were located, Cooper said.

The deputy noted that though arrested, those facing prostitution charges are deemed victims and were offered services to help them escape their situation. “A lot chose not to, didn’t want our help, weren’t ready for it,” he said.

One young woman did seek help, and her name intentionally was not listed among those arrested, Cooper said. A few other people were “on the fence” and might seek help. “We don’t withdraw that offer” to help people get assistance and protection from providers including Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus and Without Permission, he said. “We’re not here to criminalize them.”

According to a Facebook post by the Sheriff’s Department, those arrested on suspicion of prostitution/solicitation were Gerald McCoy, 47; Jasmine Giles, 22; Manuel Fernandez, 26; Willams Lopez, 23; Desiree Cantu, 24; Manuel Fernandez, 26; Ronald Zombrano, 51; Jorge Rivera, 53; Ciarra Hill, 20; Jon Parker, 32; Christopher Morales, 52; Rebecca Fusselman, 34; Armando Zambrano, 33; Lucile Carton, 19; Ricardo Cantu, 31; Tara Romano, 21; Miguel Hernandez, 20; Gilberto Franco-Fonseca, 30; Jose Richardo-Garcia, 24; Lanaye Woods, 21; Unique Moore, 26; Pennie Rivera, 24; Liza Valivia, 29; Kimberly Harolds, 28; Dennie Lee Rivera, 24; and Lindsey Ridenour, 28. The list is a mix of those offering and requesting prostitution.

Arrested on suspicion of loitering with intent to engage in prostitution were James Bradley, 30; Sione Tuakalal, 36; and Phillip Story, 26. Deberge Frazier, 35, was arrested on suspicion of pandering.

Carla Berrett, 42, was arrested on a parole violation. Dario Drakes, 44, and Dominic Mapp-Parker, 24, were picked up on parole violations.

Deke has been an editor and reporter with The Modesto Bee since 1995. He currently does breaking-news, education and human-interest reporting. A Beyer High grad, he studied geology and journalism at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento.
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