COLTON (CBSLA) – A San Bernardino County family with ties in Mexico, Los Angeles, and San Diego is accused of operating a massive sex trafficking ring through multiple spa and skincare businesses around Southern California.
Starting in January, detectives received information that sex and labor trafficking were happening at several massage parlors and skincare businesses in Ventura County, according to human trafficking investigators with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Special Crime Unit.READ MORE: Thomas Apollo Of Poway Charged With Attacking Workers At Tustin Vaccine Clinic, Groping Nurse Trying To Treat Him
The businesses were owned and operated by a family living in the Inland Empire.
Investigators said the illicit businesses were being operated under fictitious names and were in the counties of Ventura, Riverside, and San Bernardino.
Deputies identified Royal Spa in Oxnard, Cool Sculpting in Oxnard, Gem Skin Care in Colton, Cosmopolitan Spa in Palm Springs, Orchid Skin Care in San Bernardino, and Sunset Skin Care in Port Hueneme.
As the investigation proceeded, they said they discovered the suspects primarily targeted women from Mexico to work in these illicit businesses, some of whom were living in Southern California on United States Refugee Visas.
Investigators said the suspects used human smugglers to recruit women in Mexico and bring them into the United States to work in the businesses.
Once these women were recruited, sex advertisements were placed on various internet sites depicting them, according to detectives. These sex advertisements would describe pricing, the type of sexual encounter, and which business the women were working at. These advertisements were updated daily, and the females were rotated throughout the various businesses.
Investigators identified a fashion boutique, Fashion Spot in Colton, which was owned by the suspects to launder the proceeds from the illegal sex businesses. The profits were funneled through the boutique to make the money appear legal so that the family could make car payments, mortgage payments, and other expenses.READ MORE: Vigil Held For ‘Dedicated, Outstanding, Compassionate’ Nurse Killed In Bus Stop Attack Near Union Station
Investigators believe the entire operation was primarily run by a sister and brother team named Olga and Carlos Paredes. Olga oversaw all the illicit businesses, met with managers regarding the work of the women, and opened new businesses under fictitious names. Carlos managed several of the illicit businesses, collected daily payment receipts from all the businesses, recruited the females, and posted sex advertisements.
Flor De Maria Evora, the girlfriend of Carlos, and Jaime Vasquez, a nephew, managed the daily accounting sheets and proceeds for all the businesses, investigators added.
Olga Ramirez, the daughter of Olga Paredes, managed the fashion boutique and assisted her mother with opening new sex and labor trafficking businesses, detectives said.
The Matriarch of the family, Maria Del Refugio Garcia, who is the mother of Olga and Carlos Paredes, lives in Mexico and provided guidance and direction on the operations of the illicit businesses. She also opened bank accounts in Mexico to funnel proceeds from these businesses out of the United States, according to detectives.
Bruce Pineda, Ismael Reyes, and Hector Prado Ramos who were not related to the suspects managed three separate illicit businesses for them, investigators said.
On March 2, search warrants were served at the businesses and several homes. As a result of these warrants, numerous trafficked females were located and provided services through human trafficking victim service providers, deputies said.
Large sums of cash were seized from the locations that are believed to be proceeds of sex trafficking and money laundering. Olga Paredes, Flor De Maria Evora, Olga Ramirez, Jaime Vasquez, Bruce Pineda, Ismael Reyes, and Hector Prado Ramos were arrested for human trafficking, conspiracy to commit a crime, and other charges. All the subjects arrested and taken to jail.
Carlos Paredes was not found, and Maria Del Refugio Garcia was believed to be in Mexico. Arrest warrants for them are pending.MORE NEWS: Biden Administration To Give Out 400 Million Free N95 Masks
Detectives encourage victims to call 2-1-1 or local law enforcement if they believe they are victims or know a victim of human trafficking.