Crime

15-year-old girl forced into prostitution is rescued from SLO hotel, police say

Brianna Day Morales, 20, of Chico was arrested Tuesday, July 28, 2015, on suspicion of human trafficking, abduction for purposes of prostitution, false imprisonment and criminal conspiracy. Original story »
Brianna Day Morales, 20, of Chico was arrested Tuesday, July 28, 2015, on suspicion of human trafficking, abduction for purposes of prostitution, false imprisonment and criminal conspiracy. Original story »

Two Chico residents and a 16-year-old Manteca boy are in custody on suspicion of human trafficking after officers rescued a distraught 15-year-old girl who allegedly was being used for prostitution at a San Luis Obispo hotel Tuesday afternoon.

Acting on information from the Manteca Police Department, San Luis Obispo city police responded to a hotel in the 1800 block of Monterey Street to find a teenage girl reported missing in Manteca. Police from that southern San Joaquin County city told local investigators the girl was likely being held against her will by possibly armed human traffickers.

Officers found the girl alone in one of the hotel rooms, San Luis Obispo Lt. John Bledsoe said Wednesday.

“She seemed extremely afraid and was shaking and crying hysterically,” Bledsoe said.

She was taken to the police station, where she received professional care and was later reunited with her family, according to a San Luis Obispo Police Department news release.

During the early phase of their investigation, officers learned that the girl had been traveling with the 16-year-old boy before arriving in San Luis Obispo around July 25 and had allegedly been forced into prostitution in cities north of San Luis Obispo County as well as areas within the county.

Bledsoe declined to elaborate on where the alleged abuse took place, saying the investigation is ongoing and still in the early stages.

“We don’t want to release any more information while we’re still investigating,” Bledsoe said. “This case is still evolving.”

The department has not identified the 16-year-old suspect because of his age. But during the investigation Tuesday, officers identified Fabio Bettencourt Silveira and Brianna Day Morales, both 20-year-old residents of Chico, as also being involved in a conspiracy to exploit the victim into prostitution, the department said.

At about 3:20 p.m., Morales was spotted by officers as she was riding in the passenger seat of a vehicle in the 200 block of Santa Rosa Street. She was taken into custody without incident and booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail on suspicion of human trafficking, abduction for purposes of prostitution, false imprisonment and criminal conspiracy, all felonies.

At about 4:05 p.m., Silveira and the 16-year-old boy returned to the hotel and were also booked into County Jail.

Silveira was booked on suspicion of human trafficking and criminal conspiracy, and the teenager was taken to the Juvenile Services Center on suspicion of human trafficking, abduction for purposes of prostitution, false imprisonment and criminal conspiracy.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Silveira and Morales remained in custody at County Jail in lieu of $70,000 and $100,000 bail, respectively.

The teen remained at Juvenile Services without bail.

Bledsoe said investigators are trying to identify other people who may have also been involved. He asked any members of the public with information about the situation to contact the Police Department at 781-7353 or leave an anonymous tip at Crime Stoppers at 549-STOP.

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