Fifteen people were arrested in Eastern Oregon’s Malheur County in connection with an undercover sex trafficking operation, according to a Malheur County Sheriff’s Office press release sent Saturday night.
According to the release, the undercover operation took place from Dec. 11 to 17, with investigators posting online ads to “known sex trafficking websites.” The sheriff’s office, which collaborated with Ontario, Nyssa and Payette police departments, declined to identify which websites those were.
Officials said those arrested, seven of whom are from Idaho, contacted undercover officers to arrange sexual acts for money. They were arrested at a hotel in Ontario.
Eleven men were arrested on charges of commercial sexual solicitation: Eric Lantz, 35, of Ontario; Suman Nag, 26, of Boise; Hubert Anika, 44, of Meridian; Rodney Huggins, 52, of Weiser; Michael Woodland, 62, of Homedale; James Carlile, 18, of Ontario; Victor Strica, 31, of Philadelphia, Penn.; Jason Dahnke, 29, of Ontario; Carlos Martinez, 20, of Nampa; Ryan Novotny, 41, of Fruitland; and Benjamin Lagrone, 42, of Caldwell, who was also charged with felony possession of methamphetamine.
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In addition, three women were arrested for prostitution. They are Misty Dawn Redding, 36, of Ontario; Ravonne Williams, 22, of Reno, Nev.; and Evelyn Young, 25, of Sparks, Nev. Antonio Walker, 34, of Las Vegas, Nev., was also arrested and charged with felony compelling prostitution.
“Sex trafficking has become a serious problem in almost all of our neighborhoods,” Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe said in the release.
Authorities urged anyone who believes they know of someone being sex trafficked to call their local law enforcement or contact the Sexual Assault Resource Center hotline at 1-800-640-5311 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.