Sex traffickers get 39 years in prison
Two men used luxury cars, lavish apartments to lure young women in Valley into prostitution
TULARE COUNTY – Two men who operated an elaborate sex trafficking operation in Tulare County were sentenced to a combined 39 years in prison last week while their female accomplice is on the run.
On Feb. 26, Quinton Brown, 30, and Gerald Lavell Turner, 32, both appeared in Tulare County Superior Court for sentencing. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Brown was sentenced to 28 years and Gerald Turner to 11 years in state prison. Additionally, both men were required to register as sex offenders. The third defendant, 32-year-old Mia McNeil, failed to appear and a warrant for her arrest was issued in the amount of $200,000.
On Jan. 16, the two pimps pled guilty to multiple felony charges of sex trafficking minors. Brown was originally charged with 40 counts of pimping, sex trafficking as well as receiving stolen property. Turner was charged with six counts of pimping and sex trafficking. McNeil is charged with seven counts of identity theft, which the group used to fund their operation, and three counts of grand theft for stealing luxury cars and lavish apartments used to lure girls under the guise of glamorous careers.
In July 2017, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed 54 felony charges against Brown, Turner and McNeil, following a six-month investigation by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, and the Division of Law Enforcement of the California Department of Justice.
The criminal complaint alleged that Brown lured victims from the Central Valley and trafficked them throughout the State. It also alleged that Turner trafficked minors in the Central Valley and that McNeil fraudulently procured luxury vehicles, including a Maserati Levante and a Porsche Panamera, and apartments used to facilitate the trafficking. Turner has previous felony conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, attempting to escape from prison, and the use drugs in prison. Brown has a previous felony conviction for drug trafficking and robbery. McNeil has previous felonies for identify theft and grand theft.
The victims, including eight minors between the ages of 16 and 17, were sold for commercial sex throughout the Central Valley, Bay Area and Los Angeles. The investigation began when a mother contacted the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office in regards to her teenage daughter who had run away. Once it was discovered that she had been a victim of sex trafficking, the Sheriff’s Department identified multiple juvenile and adult victims (ages 18 to 21) of human trafficking from Tulare County.
Victims and survivors of human trafficking are encouraged to call any police department or the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-373-7888.
Monday, Feb. 26
Detectives with the Property Crimes Unit responded to the KLX Transportation Trucking Company in Goshen. It was learned that a subject, 60-year-old Tony Steelman of Tulare, entered the Love’s Truck Stop in Tulare and cashed approximately, 517 KLX company checks during a span of time of about a year and a half. In total, he was able to acquire $372,578. Detectives contacted Steelman at his home in Tulare. While serving a search warrant, Steelman admitted to the theft and provided detailed information on how he committed the crime. Steelman was later transported and booked at the Pre Trial Facility in Visalia for grand theft of property.
Sunday, Feb. 25
At 10 a.m. in the 19800 block of road 196 in the Strathmore area, deputies responded to a burglary of a storage facility. The burglary occurred sometime during the night. Damage was done to the fence to gain entry and a secured storage container by unknown subject(s) who stole a quad, air compressor and a large amount of hand tools. The reporting party estimates approximately $11,000 in property loss/damage. California Highway Patrol was also notified and assisted in the investigation of the stolen quad.