LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Authorities say a 15-year-old Valley runaway was held for days against her will as a sex slave on a pot farm in Northern California.
Federal authorities say Ryan Balletto, 30 and Patrick Pearmain, 25, ran the pot farm, made the girl work the business and kept her inside a small box with air holes and a hose to clean it out.
Residents of Lake County, where the girl was held, were shocked and angered by the allegations.
“Just disgusting, terrifying,” said one.
“That’s creepy, that’s weird,” said another.
Reporting for CBS2, Rachel Kim said court documents allege the teen was held captive inside a small metal toolbox, four feet long and only two feet wide.
Near the box, police found a noose, a rack used to hold somebody against their will and equipment consistent with sexual bondage and sadomasochism. The girl also told police Balletto called her “a trouper” because she didn’t scream when she was locked in the box.
“She had a history of running away but certainly nobody that runs away bargains for getting into anything like this,” said LAPD Commander Andrew Smith.
Earlier this year, Smith says the LAPD got a tip about a possible runaway from the San Fernando Valley. He says a few days later, they got an anonymous tip that the girl had been seen in Hollywwood and may have been kidnapped and taken to Northern California.
“Our detectives were able to put the case together, identify who the victim was first of all and then they identified a possible suspect in the case. That information was relayed to the authorities in Northern California,” said Smith.
Authorities tracked down the suspects and the girl. In addition to being used as a sex slave, she told authorities the suspects forced her to work helping cut and cultivate the marijuana for sale.
Along with 1300 pot plants, investigators also seized a large cache of weapons and ammunition.
Balletto and Pearmain face a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted on all charges.
Police also arrested a third man Friday and accused him of also having sex with the underage teen.
Kim reported there is no word on whether the girl has been reunited with her family.