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Three charged with sex trafficking operation involving 13 women, authorities say

Three people have been charged with selling five women and eight minors for commercial sex in a human trafficking operation that spanned California and crossed state lines, authorities announced Thursday.

Officials allege that San Diego native Quinton Brown, 30, and Gerald Lavell Turner, 32, of Fresno sold at least 13 victims for sex over the last year by advertising them on the Internet. The two men also had sex with some of the minors, authorities charge.

A third suspect, Mia Maree McNeil, 32, of Los Angeles used stolen identities to lease locations in West Hollywood, Chatsworth and Bakersfield as brothels, and to purchase cars to transport victims, officials allege.

On Wednesday, state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra filed 54 felony charges against the three — including pandering, pimping minors, identify theft, and automobile theft.

Brown — who was already in custody for another alleged crime — was arrested last week and Turner was arrested Tuesday. Both are being held in Tulare County, according to L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Det. Christopher Hicks.

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McNeil is still wanted and her whereabouts are unknown.

A joint investigation by sheriff’s departments in Tulare and Los Angeles counties began in January after L.A. County Sheriff’s Department officials received a tip that a missing girl from Tulare County was living in a West Hollywood apartment. Upon arrival, deputies found the missing girl and two adults, and learned of additional sex trafficking victims.

The alleged victims ranged in age from 15 to 21. The crimes were allegedly committed across California and in Nevada.

The 13 alleged victims have all been recovered, according to Hicks, but the investigation remains ongoing as officials search for additional possible victims.

Brown and Turner had previously been convicted of robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, according to the complaint.

megan.bernhard@latimes.com

@meg_bernhard

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