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Federal indictment handed down after Anaheim police crack alleged pimping operation

Eric Wells
Eric Wells

Two people have been indicted in an alleged multistate pimping operation that had at least two underage girls, and possibly others, turning tricks around California and the Southwest, including near Disneyland.

Authorities say they currently know of two young victims, ages 14 and 17, who were shuttled around and advertised as prostitutes on websites like MyRedBook and Backpage, then made to turn tricks in motels like the Motel 6 on Disney Way.

Eric Wells, 24, and Tonisha Moore, 22, were arrested late last month, and on Wednesday a federal grand jury handed down an indictment against them, the Orange County Register reports. Moore is described as a prostitute and the mother of Wells’ child. The teen girls in their service were not related to them.

Although Anaheim police cracked the case and the couple was tracked down in Sacramento, the couple allegedly crossed state lines with the girls -- three times in a nine-day period -- so are now in the custody of the FBI, according to reports. They face charges in federal court of sex trafficking of children, conspiracy and transportation of minors, and could face life in prison if convicted.

Wells and Moore allegedly claimed the girls were 19 in their ads -- and authorities believe there may be other underage victims.

Anaheim police first noticed one of the girls as she was exiting a CVS drugstore on South Beach Boulevard -- a 14-year-old alone in an area frequented by prostitutes. Asked where she lived, the girl told officers she was staying at the Travelodge down the street.

Police investigated and the case unraveled from there. Wells and Moore were arrested April 24 at a motel in Sacramento, where police say they had taken the 17-year-old.

According to authorities, the couple met the girls in Las Vegas in mid-April. They traveled to Phoenix soon after that before arriving in Anaheim.