A Berkeley man was arrested in connection with human trafficking at a hotel in Santa Rosa on Wednesday, according to police. Vincent Andrew Rones, 50, was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking, pimping and pandering, Santa Rosa police said. At about 6:45 a.m. Wednesday, an officer was conducting a security check at a hotel when an employee alerted the officer that six people, one man and five women, were occupying a single room, according to police.
The hotel clerk told police that payment by the registered guest had been made for only two people. The officer conducted an investigation with the occupants to determine whether any illegal activities were going on inside the hotel room. After speaking with the occupants of the hotel room, the officer believed the women to be involved in prostitution.
The officer believed that several of the women were afraid for their safety and feared the man, later identified as Rones. Rones was found to have a felony arrest warrant from Pennsylvania for prostitution and pimping, according to police. Investigators believe Rones and two of the women located in the hotel room have been involved in prostitution together for the last several years.
According to police, Rones and at least one of the women began communicating with three women located in other states via social media sites used for prostitution. Rones told at least one of the three women he wanted a relationship with her, police said.
Between October 2012 and March, the three women who were residing in other states were convinced to travel to California and join Rones, who made travel arrangements and paid for their bus fare, police said. Upon arrival in California, the women were taught how to prostitute themselves using social media applications and websites, police said.
The women reported being physically abused by Rones and told police that he did not allow them to contact their families. Rones was booked into Sonoma County Jail and is being held on $625,000, according to police. Several of the women asked for assistance and were provided services by the nonprofits Verity and Crossing the Jordan Foundation and the Santa Rosa Police Officers’ Association.
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