SANTA PAULA (CBS/AP) — Several alleged gang members were arraigned Tuesday afternoon on sex crimes charges after police say they used social media websites to kidnap and rape young girls.
The seven adults and one juvenile were arrested Friday. The suspects were identified as Carlos Ek, 22; Esteban Oseguera, 18; Isaac Ek, 19; Joseph Sandoval, 18; Jonathan Gaona, 19; Dion Mendoza, 19; Adrian Garcia, 19, and a 17-year-old juvenile, all of Santa Paula.
Six of the eight suspects were arraigned Tuesday in Ventura County court on charges ranging from rape, conspiracy, child abuse, sexual battery by restraint and parole violations. An additional suspect arrested in connection with the assaults was not immediately charged.
Carlos Ek was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder for a Solimar Beach stabbing being investigated by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. It was unclear if he was arraigned Tuesday on those charges.
Authorities say they were familiar with the suspects due to their alleged gang ties.
The arrests were the result of a six-week investigation of two rapes that occurred in March and April.
Santa Paula police said the suspects used the Internet to lure teenaged girls to house parties where they were given alcohol, possibly drugged and then raped by multiple men. Authorities say at least one rape occurred while the victim was sleeping.
“Its pretty clear right now that alcohol was involved. The bottom line is they can really become incapacitated and abused anyway and they just didn’t know this was going to happen,” said Santa Paula Police Chief Stephan MacKinnon.
Authorities have investigated two known cases, but fear there could be more victims who haven’t come forward.
Ventura County prosecutors say they will seek to try the 17-year-old as an adult.
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