Second arrest made in Coachella Valley human trafficking case
UPDATED: Friday, Nov. 20, 4:11 p.m., With additional details.
Originally Published: Friday, Nov. 12, 2:25 p.m.
THERMAL Calif. — Authorities have announced that two men have now been arrested in an ongoing human trafficking investigation in the Coachella Valley community of Thermal.
Both men, who are residents of Thermal, have been charged with a variety of crimes, including human trafficking of a minor, pimping of a minor, pandering of a minor, unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, oral copulation, and other felonies.
LEADING THE RCNS HEADLINES:
As part of a lengthy and ongoing human trafficking investigation, at around 4 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12, with the assistance of the Coachella Valley Violent Crime Gang Task Force, members of the Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (RCAHT) served a search warrant at the 76-000 block of Pierce Street in Thermal, according to Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Jose Tijerina.
During the service of the search warrant, Jose Manuel Quevedo Pimentel, 21, of Thermal, was arrested and he was later booked into Riverside County Jail in Indio.
As their investigation continued, RCAHT identified a second suspect involved in this incident, Carlos Beltran, 50 of Thermal, according to Tijerina.
On Thursday, Nov. 19, RCAHT members, with assistance from the Southern Coachella Valley Community Services District Team, located and arrested Beltran in the 68-500 block of Polk Street, in Thermal.
After his arrest, Beltran was also booked into the Riverside County Jail in Indio.
LEADING THE SCNS NORTH STATE HEADLINES:
During this investigation two victims were identified, according to Tijerina. However, contacted for more information regarding the victims involved in this case, Riverside Sheriff’s spokesperson Sgt. Murphy advised that due to the ongoing and sensitive nature of this investigation, no further details about the pair of victims could be released at this time.
President and CEO of Million Kids, Opal Singleton, has trained tens of thousands of government officials, school administrators, social outreach organizations, civic leaders, faith-based organizations and prominent individuals about human trafficking, sextortion, child pornography and social media exploitation in the U.S. and around the globe.
Author of the book “Seduced: The Grooming of America’s Teenagers” which educates parents, teachers and civic leaders about how predators use fantasy relationships in social media to influence a young person into believing they really care about them, Opal Singleton, who also acts as Training and Outreach Coordinator for the Riverside County Anti Human Trafficking Task Force, recently told RCNS that sex trafficking is a significant issue in Riverside County.
“Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the US and California is the number one state for sex trafficking cases,” Singleton said; adding, “Our County is fortunate to have an Anti Human Trafficking Force that focuses on finding and stopping predators who prey on vulnerable victims.”
“All to often these victims, so many of whom are teens, fall prey to pimps and predators who take advantage of them.”
Echoing Singleton’s assessment of the ongoing human trafficking crisis, after a recent operation targeting both men and women who seek out the services of prostitutes, commonly referred to as “Johns”, Riverside Sheriff’s Sgt. J. Sawyer said, “The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that one in six endangered runaways reported are likely victims of sex trafficking.”
“Ninety-five percent of sex trafficking victims are women or children,” Sawyer explained; adding, “Sex trafficking victims are often subjected not only to severe forms of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of their trafficker, but are also frequently physically and sexually assaulted by those that solicit them for prostitution.”
“The Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force seeks to disrupt and dismantle sex trafficking rings operating within Riverside County and will aggressively identify, pursue and apprehend those who seek to exploit those whom are most vulnerable,” Sawyer said at the time.
The Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force is asking anyone with additional information to contact RCAHT Task Force Lead Investigator Julio Oseguera at (760) 836-1600 or call anonymously at (760) 341-STOP (7867). Callers can refer to incident file number R202620003 and can remain anonymous.
Formed in March 2020 to address crimes involving the exploitation of victims via force, fraud, or coercion in the eastern half of the Coachella Valley, the eastern Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force investigates cases that often involve the commercial sex trafficking of children, as well as incidents of forced labor, indentured servitude, debt bondage, or slavery.
The multidisciplinary task force combines the investigative resources of both local and federal law enforcement, and also provides victim services and education/outreach through partnerships with the non-profit groups Operation Safe House, Rebirth Homes, and Million Kids.
The law enforcement component of RCAHT is currently composed of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Riverside County Probation Department, along with part-time participation of the Hemet Police Department, Riverside Police Department, and Desert Hot Springs Police Department.
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Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.