Crime

15 men arrested in prostitution sting at Lompoc hotel

Fifteen men ranging from ages 22 to 60 were arrested on suspicion of prostitution-related crimes following a two-day law enforcement operation at a Lompoc hotel, authorities said.

On Sept. 29 and Oct. 13, law enforcement officers from several agencies were involved in the sting, which involved placing a notice on an online public website known for prostitution-related advertisements.

“The advertisement announced the availability of a female willing to engage in sexual acts in exchange for money,” said Kelly Hoover, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. “Once the ad was placed, an undercover detective negotiated with an inquiring person, or ‘john,’ a sexual act for an amount of money.

“After the negotiation, the undercover detective gave the person the location of the hotel to meet for the sex act. Once the person arrived at the location, the person was arrested for solicitation of prostitution,” Hoover added.

Twelve men were arrested for suspicion of soliciting prostitution:

▪  Anibal Santos, 30, of Buellton.

▪  Victor Juarez, 38, of Oxnard.

▪  Rigoberto Ramirez, 31, of Carpinteria.

▪  Lester Keebler, 54, of Lompoc.

▪  Mark Kempthorne, 33, of Lompoc.

▪  Albert Sicoli, 60, of Santa Ynez.

▪  Marcos Flores, 22, of Lompoc.

▪  Thomas Lee, 21, of Isla Vista.

▪  Randell Gonzales, 56, of Lompoc.

▪  Jose Bedolla, 33, of Lompoc.

▪  Sergio Lopez, 28, of Lompoc.

▪  Pedro Rico, 60, of Lompoc.

Two men face possession of methamphetamine charges along with solicitation of prostitution charges. They are:

▪  Kenneth Batiste, 35, of Lompoc.

▪  Robert Forren, 54, of Lompoc.

In addition:

▪  Flavio Gomez, 22, of Santa Maria, was arrested during the Oct. 13 operation when he arrived at the location after negotiating a sex act with a person he believed was under age 18, Hoover said. Gomez was booked on charges of arriving to meet a minor for a lewd purpose and for solicitation of prostitution.

The operation involved members of the Lompoc Police Department, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz.

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