2 Relatives Arrested on Suspicion of Trafficking 17-Year-Old Girl as Prostitute From Ontario Motel
Investigation into an online posting advertising an underage girl for prostitution led authorities to arrest two Highland women accused of trafficking her, officials said Friday.
The ad led detectives to believe the 17-year-old was being trafficked from the Best Ontario Inn at 1045 W. Mission Blvd. in Ontario, and through further probing investigators tracked the victim to an apartment complex in the 26000 block of Cypress Avenue in Highland, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
Authorities responded to the complex around 9 a.m. Wednesday to conduct surveillance and serve a search warrant.
During that time, they spotted a young female who fit the victim’s description walking with a male juvenile. Officers from the San Bernardino City Unified School Police Department responded to detain the two and escort them to the apartment involved, sheriff’s official said.
Upon serving the warrant, authorities found Stephanie Hill, 40, and Sheila Hill, 44, inside the unit. Both women were detained based on evidence and information obtained there.
The two are related, though they are not sisters, according to Deputy Olivia Bozek, a sheriff’s department spokesperson.
The pair was then taken, along with the two juveniles, to a sheriff’s station for further questioning.
Detectives subsequently determined the girl detained was indeed the 17-year-old victim they were searching for, and that Stephanie and Sheila had been “involved in supporting, encouraging and profiting from the prostitution of the victim,” the release states.
The girl has since been turned over to Children and Family Services, while the boy she was with was released to his mother after it was determined he was not involved in the case.
However, a 15-year-old girl who also lives at the apartment but was not there when the warrant was served was later found and placed into protective custody, investigators said. That teen has also been interviewed, but officials have yet to determine whether she was also trafficked.
The Hills were both being held on $150,000 bail on suspicion of pimping, pandering and human trafficking of a minor, the Sheriff’s Department said.
Inmate records showed both women were scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 3.
Detectives are continuing to investigate the case.
Anyone with information or who may know of additional victims can contact the San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force at 909-387-8400. Anonymous tips may be submitted via 888-783-7463 or www.WeTip.com.