Lake County men indicted on drug charges, keeping girl in a box

A federal grand jury has indicted two Lake County men accused of keeping a 15-year-old girl in a metal box and forcing her to help them cultivate marijuana.

Ryan Alan Balletto, 30, and Patrick Steven Pearmain, 25, are charged with cultivating and conspiring to traffic more than 1,000 marijuana plants and forcing the girl to help.

Balletto faces a separate charge of possessing weapons in furtherance of drug trafficking. The pair face decades behind bars if convicted.


According to prosecutors, Balletto was growing more than 1,200 marijuana plants on his 681-acre property east of Clear Lake in Northern California and had an extensive weapons cache on hand to defend it.

Though he had been monitored by immigration authorities since 2011, a raid on the property and two others May 1 turned up more marijuana than expected.

Authorities found tools and a rack built for human bondage and sadomasochism and a metal box with air holes cut in it. The first initial of a girl’s name was spray painted across the front of the box.

A teenage runaway from Hollywood who had been reporting missing since early April was being kept on the Lake County property and for three days at least, inside the metal box, prosecutors allege. She was also sexually assaulted by both men, officials said.

She was rescued and Pearmain arrested in West Sacramento the same day that authorities raided Balletto’s property. Balletto was arrested at his home 25 miles away from the suspected marijuana farm.

Both men are being held in federal custody without bail.


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