‘Coura­geous’ teen helps break up San Jose hu­man traf­fick­ing ring

Lodi News-Sentinel - - PAGE TWO - By Ja­son Green

SAN JOSE — Author­i­ties are cred­it­ing a 14-year-old girl with help­ing break up a hu­man traf­fick­ing op­er­a­tion in San Jose ear­lier this week.

On Sun­day, the teen con­tacted the Cri­sis Text Line to re­port that she was be­ing held against her will and forced to en­gage in pros­ti­tu­tion, ac­cord­ing to Sgt. En­rique Gar­cia.

Gar­cia said of­fi­cers rushed to the 14-year-old’s lo­ca­tion, a Mo­tel 6 at 2560 Fon­taine Road, and ar­rested three sus­pects: Christo­pher Lyon John­son, 39, of Sacramento; An­toine Wil­liams, 43, of Mer­ril­lville, Ind.; and Curtis Lee Rus­sell, 59, of Natomas.

In ad­di­tion to the teen, of­fi­cers res­cued a pair of women from Cal­i­for­nia, ages 20 and 23, ac­cord­ing to Gar­cia.

“It was coura­geous for the 14-year-old to do what she did,” he said.

Launched in the United States in 2013, the Cri­sis Text Line — 741741 — con­nects peo­ple in cri­sis with coun­selors whose ultimate goal is to help the tex­ter come up with a plan to stay safe. The 24/7 ser­vice is now avail­able in other coun­tries in­clud­ing Canada and South Africa.

A pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed that the teen was re­ported as a miss­ing ru­n­away from Flint, Michigan, on Sept. 1, 2018. She went to Chicago, where she was kid­napped a few days later and taken to Gary, In­di­ana. Even­tu­ally, she was taken to var­i­ous cities through­out Cal­i­for­nia where she was forced to work as a pros­ti­tute, ac­cord­ing to Gar­cia.

John­son and Wil­liams were booked into Santa Clara County jail on felony charges of hu­man traf­fick­ing, pimp­ing and pan­der­ing, and kid­nap­ping. Rus­sell was booked on felony charges of hu­man traf­fick­ing and pimp­ing. All three are be­ing held with­out bail.

Gar­cia said de­tec­tives be­lieve the sus­pects might have forced other women to en­gage in pros­ti­tu­tion.

“We take these cases ex­tremely se­ri­ously and we’re go­ing to al­lo­cate the re­sources nec­es­sary to solve them,” he said.

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