After a yearlong investigation, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department announces arrests in the disturbing case.
PALM DESERT, CA – A man and woman have been arrested for their roles in the alleged abduction and sex trafficking of a 15-year-old girl, which involved the teen’s forced prostitution over a two-month period in 2015, authorities said.
Brandon Ellison, 27, was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking of a minor, pimping of a minor and abduction of a minor for purposes of prostitution. He was being held without bail at the Riverside County jail in Indio.
Ashley Gonzalez, 24, was arrested on suspicion of charges related to the case and was booked at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta on $250,000 bail.
The whereabouts of a third suspect, Dejuan Darsean Lewis, 31, are currently unknown and a no-bail felony warrant has been issued for his arrest. Anyone who sees him or has information on his location was asked to call 911 for immediate law enforcement assistance, said sheriff’s Sgt. John Sawyer.
The suspects are accused of trafficking the girl in Indio, Palm Springs, Rancho Cucamonga and Colton after abducting her from Moreno Valley.
According to the sergeant, Ellison and Lewis took the girl in March of 2015, while she was walking near the Moreno Valley Mall. She was initially taken to a Palm Desert apartment, where the men took pictures of her for use in online prostitution advertisements.
Gonzalez, who Sawyer said conducted prostitution under Ellison’s direction, allegedly taught the girl how to conduct prostitution.
Over the next two months, the girl allegedly was beaten or sexually assaulted by Lewis if she did not meet a daily quota of customers or failed to earn a certain amount of money each day. She was also told that she would be hunted down if she escaped.
Nonetheless, she was able to escape in May of 2015 and disclosed her ordeal with counselors and members of the sheriff’s human trafficking task force, Sawyer said.
An investigation followed, leading to a search warrant served Wednesday at a home in the 77100 block of California Drive in Palm Desert, Ellison’s arrest in Indio and Gonzalez’s arrest by the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force.
Ellison and Gonzalez are due in an Indio courtroom Friday.