Husband and wife arrested on sex trafficking charges after teen girls found in North Highlands

A husband and his wife were arrested on sex trafficking charges after a deputy found three girls Sunday in North Highlands who were forced into sex work by the married couple, Sacramento County sheriff’s officials said.

The 46-year-old husband and his 35-year-old wife were arrested on suspicion of using threats or violence to encourage someone over the age of 16 into prostitution and trafficking a victim younger than 18, Sacramento County Jail records show. Both charges are felonies.

The arrested husband was being held in custody in lieu of $2 million bail, and his wife’s bail amount was set at $1 million.

Sheriff’s officials said detectives fear the married could have had additional, unreported sex trafficking victims.

The investigation began Sunday when a patrol deputy found a girl near Watt Avenue and Winona Way in North Highlands. The deputy discovered the girl was a victim of sex trafficking and took the girl to safety, before he returned the same area about 8 p.m. Sunday, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said Monday in a news release.

Sheriff’s officials said the deputy spotted two “younger-looking girls” wearing lingerie near a vehicle. Both were 17 years old, according to the news release. The deputy spoke to the girls and learned they also were victims of sex trafficking.

Detectives from the sheriff’s special investigations bureau responded and discovered the two girls were being trafficked by family friends, who later were identified as the married couple whom the teen girls referred to as their “street parents,” sheriff’s officials said.

The detectives later found the suspects and arrested them on the felony sex trafficking charges. They were booked at the jail early Monday.

The husband is scheduled to appear Wednesday for his arraignment in Sacramento Superior Court, and his wife’s court arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday.

Investigators urged anyone with information relevant to this sex trafficking case to call the Sheriff’s Office at 916-874-5115 or Sacramento Valley Crime Stoppers at 916-443-4357.