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On June 12, 2019 the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office concluded a month long investigation that led to the arrest of two suspects for Human Trafficking for their involvement in sexually trafficking a 16 year old female in Ventura County.
On May 22, 2019
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Office Anti Human Trafficking Task Force notified the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of a 16 year old juvenile female that was possibly in Ventura County that was being sexually trafficked by unknown suspect(s). Investigators quickly narrowed down the juvenile’s location to the Newbury Park area. Before investigators could locate the juvenile, she left the area. Investigators determined the juvenile travelled to the Bakersfield area, then to Madera County and later into Fresno. Ventura County Sheriff’s Office worked closely with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, Bakersfield Police Department, Madera County Sheriff’s Office and the Fresno Police Department to locate the juvenile over the next two days. On May 24, 2019 the Madera County Sheriff’s Office was able to locate the juvenile victim and took her into protective custody where she began receiving servic es.
Jovantay Bess + Cirsten Joseph
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office investigators continued with the investigation to determine who was responsible for trafficking the juvenile victim while in Ventura County. Detectives conducted interviews and served several search warrants throughout the investigation. Investigators determined the juvenile victim had been in Ventura County on two separate occasions during the month of May 2019. Investigators identified Jovantay Bess as the person responsible for sexually trafficking the juvenile victim during the first incident in Ventura County and Cirsten Joseph was responsible for trafficking the juvenile victim during the second incident in Ventura County.
On June 12, 2019
Investigators served a search warrant at Joseph’s residence and collected evidence related to the investigation. Joseph was arrested for his role in trafficking the juvenile victim. Later that day, investigators located Bess in Newbury Park along with Allan Sherman and two adult females. It was determined the adult females were involved in prostitution and had been offering sexual services in the City of Ventura. Sherman initially provided investigators a false name. Once Sherman’s true identity was determined, he was arrested for providing false information to a peace officer. Investigators later determined Sherman was involved in pimping and trafficking one of the adult females and was arrested for those offenses. Sherman was determined to be a gang member from Bakersfield and Bess a gang member from Fresno. Bess was arrested for his role in trafficking the juvenile victim. Investigators are still reviewing evidence surrounding the two adult females and their prostitution activities.
Bess was booked into the Ventura County Jail for 236.1(c)(2) PC and his bail was set at $120,000.00. Joseph was booked into the Ventura County Jail for 236.1(c)(2) PC and his bail was set at $120,000.00. Sherman was booked into the Ventura County Jail for 236.1(b) PC,148.9(a) PC and 266h PC, his bail was set at $100,000.00.
On June 14, 2019
Bess and Joseph appeared in Ventura County Superior Court, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office filed 236.1(c)(2) charges against Bess and Joseph. Sherman appeared in Ventura County Superior Court on June 18, 2019, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office filed a 236.1(b) PC charge against Sherman. The juvenile victim remains in protective custody.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office has a dedicated human trafficking investigator assigned to the Special Crimes – Intelligence Unit. This investigative unit works alongside other investigative units and law enforcement agencies throughout Ventura County and the State of California to investigate Human Trafficking cases and coordinate services for victims of Human Trafficking.