Five persons were arrested this week on charges of commercial sexual exploitation of a minor.
The suspects were charged with arranging to meet a teenage girl through a website for the purpose of having sex with her, in addition to other offenses.
According to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, the arrests on Tuesday came as the result of a four-month investigation by the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, headquartered in Anaheim. Anaheim, Irvine and Santa Ana police departments were involved, as well as the OCDA and the California Highway Patrol.
The inquiry began in September 2020 regarding possible commercial exploitation of minors through the Sugardaddymeet.com website.
One of the draws by sexual predators to online sites is the benefit of anonymity. Anyone can portray themselves to be someone they are not, according to authorities. This trend continues to increase at an exponential rate, increasing the number of minors being exploited.
Anaheim Police Chief Jorge Cisneros said, “The benefit of anonymity also works in law enforcement’s favor. Let those looking to sexually exploit children, or any victim be warned. We are investigating these crimes and will bring you to justice, which these suspects now know, firsthand.”
The Orange County District Attorney’s office filed charges against:
- Mitchell Biela, 34, of Long Beach, with one felony charge of human trafficking with a minor, one felony count of pimping a minor for prostitution and one felony count of pandering a minor.
- Michael Araujo, 48, of Anaheim, with six felony counts of lewd acts on a child between the age of 14 and 15, six felony counts of oral sex with a minor and 18 misdemeanor counts of soliciting, engaging or agreeing to engage in prostitution with a minor, and only felony count of sodomy of a minor.
- Nick Rexford Walpert, 59, of San Diego, with one felony count of meeting a minor to commit lewd conduct, one felony count of attempted sodomy of a minor, one felony count of attempted unlawful sexual intercourse and one felony count of attempted oral copulation of a minor.
- Michael Leija, 40, of Norwalk, with 10 felony counts of lewd acts upon a child between the age of 14 and 15 and one misdemeanor count of solicitation, engaging or agreeing to engage in prostitution with a minor.
- Juan Catalan, 42, of Gardena, with one felony charge of a lewd act on a child between the age of 14 and 15, one felony count of luring a child with criminal intent, one felony count of meeting a minor to commit lewd conduct, two misdemeanor counts of soliciting, engaging or agreeing to engage in prostitution with a minor and one misdemeanor count of arranging to meet a minor for lewd conduct.
Categories: Orange County