Five people were arrested and three other suspects are outstanding in a human trafficking case involving immigrants Tuesday when search warrants were served in Monterey and Santa Clara counties, Monterey County sheriff’s officials said today. The arrests culminated a three-month investigation by agents from the Monterey County sheriff’s violence suppression unit into the suspects, who investigators allege sent female immigrants to the United States illegally, sheriff’s officials said. The immigrants hailed from Mexico and Central American countries including El Salvador and Nicaragua, according to sheriff’s officials. Arrested were King City residents Jose Leonel Romero Matias, also known as Don Emilio, 36; Simon Guevara, 43; Hollman Giovanni Zelaya, 39; Greenfield resident Deybi Roman Gomez, 24; and a 16-year-old boy, sheriff’s officials said.
Investigators are still looking for Alexa Margine Lopez Ortez, also known as Alicia, 45, of King City; Miralda Garnica Gonzalez, 25, of King City; and Juana Medina Javier, 54, of Greenfield. The victims were forced to perform sexual acts on other people to pay off a debt and the suspects would take the money from the customers, sheriff’s officials said. Warrants were served Tuesday at three King City homes and one residence each in Greenfield and Gilroy, sheriff’s officials said. While carrying out the warrants investigators found three immigrants, who confessed to engaging in sexual acts for the male suspects, who took half of the earnings, according to sheriff’s officials. Agents were able to search a storage locker and other homes where the suspects lived to find evidence of prostitution and pimping, sheriff’s officials said.
About 15,000 counterfeit DVDs worth nearly $60,000 was found and detectives learned two of the suspects had sold the discs to earn more money, according to sheriff’s officials. The 16-year-old boy was identified as a member of the Sureno criminal street gang on felony probation and allegedly found with firearms, sheriff’s officials said. Investigators seized other firearms that were found in close proximity to children and thousands of dollars in U.S. currency, sheriff’s officials said. The unit includes officers from the sheriff’s office, Monterey County District Attorney’s Office, California Highway Patrol, state parole and Gonzales and Soledad police departments. The unit also received assistance in the case from the state Department of Justice’s Narcotic Enforcement team and the FBI.