Officers Rescue 13-Year-Old Girl From Sex Trafficking Operation

The girl was found at an Escondido motel, where she had been for several days, officials said

A 13-year-old human trafficking victim forced into prostitution was rescued from an Escondido motel this week, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

The Fresno Police Department's Vice Unit discovered suspects involved in the Fresno-based operation were in San Diego, prostituting the 13-year-old girl.

Fresno investigators found adds featuring the girl posted to a social media website that caters to prostitution and escort-related services, officials said in a release Friday. They alerted the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force members, who began their search for the girl.

They deployed an undercover investigation to rescue her.

"We were able to pose as being a potential john through a course of different tactics we have [that] I won't divulge," said San Diego County Sheriff's Sgt. Matt Blumenthal. "We were able to get her to give us a location she was at. It allowed us to rescue her." 

Task force officers in plain clothes rescued the girl on Dec. 1 from the Mt. Vernon Inn at 501 W. Mission Avenue in Escondido, where she had been for several days, they said. Officers also found an 18-year-old woman there and learned she was another victim of human trafficking.

Timothy Wiggans, a 24-year-old Fresno resident, and a 17-year-old male minor were arrested suspicion of being human trafficking facilitators.

The 13-year-old girl has been reunited with her family in Fresno, police there said.

Blumenthal explained how some victims become involved in human trafficking.

"They're not kidnapped. It's like a brainwashing of sorts," he said. "They overwhelm girls mentally and physically in some cases -- not sure in this case -- and have an overwhelming hold. Girls don't feel there's a way out." 

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