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Sheriff’s Investigators Arrest 8 People for Prostitution-Related Crimes in Santa Maria

Eight people were arrested for prostitution related crimes following an undercover operation conducted at a Santa Maria hotel on Aug. 10 by Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s detectives assigned to the Special Investigations Bureau and Criminal Investigations Bureau.

The sting is part of an ongoing effort to combat Human Trafficking in Santa Barbara County. This has partially been made possible by both the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office receiving a federal grant addressing Human Trafficking in late 2016.

Both offices collaborate together to investigate, prosecute, and provide victim services.

For this particular sting, investigators placed an online add on a publicly accessible website known for online prostitution-related advertisements. The advertisement announced the availability of a female willing to engage in sexual acts in exchange for money.

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. It should be noted, that all subjects arrested were cooperative when contacted by arresting detectives.

Five male subjects were arrested, and then booked and released with a notice to appear for violation of solicitation of prostitution, including 23-year-old Alexis Oliveros of Santa Maria; 69-year- old Walter Thomas of Lompoc; 27-year-old Samuel Fast of Santa Maria; 24-year-old Christopher Rodgers of Santa Maria; and 53-year-old Wayne Pong of Santa Maria. 

Two Paso Robles men, 20-year-old Braulio Cisneros-Chavez and 23-year-old Christian Rodriguez-Ibarra, were arrested during the operation and booked for additional narcotic-related charges since the suspect had negotiated a sex act in exchange for cocaine.

Edward Scheuerman, 61, of Paso Robles was arrested when he arrived at the location after negotiating a sex act with a person he believed was under the age of 18. He was booked at the jail on
charges of arriving to meet a minor for a lewd purpose and for solicitation of prostitution.

The Sheriff’s Office will continue to conduct these type of stings and other human trafficking related stings throughout Santa Barbara County. Over the years, the number of online prostitution related advertisements have grown substantially.

A majority of the women who engage in prostitution are victims of various types of abuse and/or human trafficking. One issue that drives human trafficking is the demand for women to engage in prostitution.

By conducting this type of operation, the intention is to deter people or the “Johns” from searching for a prostitute, thereby reducing the demand and hopefully reducing the amount of women who fall victim to the abuse of human trafficking.

Kelly Hoover is public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

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