A suspected human trafficker was detained after officials rescued three underage girls who were being sold for sex in Santa Ana, police said Thursday.
The investigation began when officers made contact with a 16-year-old girl near the corner of Harbor Boulevard and Hazard Avenue around 6:45 a.m. Saturday, Santa Ana police said in a news release.
The department has been conducting ongoing anti-prostitution patrols in the area and identified the teen as a human trafficking victim, officials said.
Vice detectives responded to investigate and social services coordinators assisted with rescuing the girl, police said.
Investigators determined one of the suspects involved in trafficking her was Malik Malveaux, 21, of Oakland.
At about 8:15 a.m. the following day, detectives located Malveaux’s vehicle parked outside a local motel. They then found him inside a room there along with two other underage human trafficking victims, ages 13 and 15, according to police.
Malveaux was arrested and booked on suspicion of human trafficking of a minor, pimping of a minor and pandering of a minor, authorities said.
Staff from the Orange County Social Services Agency and local nonprofit Waymakers are coordinating to provide resources for the victims.
Malveaux was scheduled to appear in court Thursday, inmate records show.