Crime

Police say he forced women into sex work in Paso Robles. He was caught in Illinois

Walter Thomas Jr. was arrested in Illinois on March 29 on suspicion of human trafficking in Paso Robles. He was sentenced Monday to 10 years in state prison.
Walter Thomas Jr. was arrested in Illinois on March 29 on suspicion of human trafficking in Paso Robles. He was sentenced Monday to 10 years in state prison. Paso Robles Police Department

A Fresno man suspected of forcing women into prostitution in Paso Robles was arrested out of state, three months after police first asked the public for help finding him.

The Paso Robles Police Department in January said that Walter "Shaky" Thomas Jr., 44, was wanted on suspicion of human trafficking after an investigation into alleged prostitution at a local hotel led detectives to believe two women were actually being forced into sex work.

The women had connections to the community in San Luis Obispo County but were not residents.

They were traveling to hotels around California, according to Commander Ty Lewis and Thomas was "acting as their pimp/panderer," police said.

The Illinois State Police arrested Thomas on the Paso Robles warrant following a traffic stop on the night of March 29, according to Illinois news station WCSJ.

Thomas is in custody of Grundy County Jail in lieu of a $1.07 million. He is awaiting extradition and has not yet been interviewed, Lewis said.

The investigation is still considered open.

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