Suspects Arrested:Suspect 1: Ariel Guizar, 35, San JoseSuspect 2: Araceli Mendoza, 23, San Jose
ANAHEIM, CA - On Wednesday, February 10, 2016, The Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF) received information from concerned family members regarding a 15 year old female juvenile runaway from Los Angeles County who was being trafficked in the city of Anaheim. The OCHTTF initiated what turned out to be a three-day, around the clock investigation, which led the team throughout Southern and Central California in search of the juvenile victim. The OCHTTF received assistance from the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force (LARHTTF), the FBI’s Innocence Lost Task Force, and the Anaheim Police Department. Thursday afternoon, LARHTTF located the 15 year old victim in Bellflower. During the police interview, she relayed horrific details about being the victim of human trafficking. She identified at least two other young female victims, all three of whom were trafficked throughout Southern California by their captor. The trafficker used threats of violence and a handgun to keep the victims working for him.
Late Thursday evening, officers located the suspect’s vehicle parked at a hotel in Anaheim. A surveillance and subsequent operation led to the capture of the male suspect identified as Ariel Guizar, as well as a female suspect, Araceli Mendoza. Both suspects were arrested and booked at the Orange County Jail for human trafficking of a minor and weapon violations. Guizar is being held on $1,000,000 bail and Mendoza on $250,000 bail. Investigators served a search warrant at Guizar’s motel room and recovered a handgun. Two additional female victims were located in the room, both 19 years of age.
In following with established protocols in Orange County, representatives from the Salvation Army Victim Advocates responded and made contact with the female victims. They will provide services needed by the victims and make arrangements to have the victims returned to their home cities. The three-day long investigation illustrates the priority the OCHTTF places on rescuing victims of human trafficking, especially when it involves juveniles. It also highlights the coordinated effort of law enforcement agencies throughout the state, as well as our federal law enforcement partners when it comes to rescuing juveniles victimized by human traffickers. The OCHTTF was formed in August 2014 and is a collaborative effort between the Anaheim Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Irvine Police Department, Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and the Santa Ana Police Department.
Booking photos are attached: