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Three booked for sex trafficking
Marcus Lopez
Marcus Lopez, 18, of Modesto was booked for human trafficking related charges Wednesday evening and being held on a $300,000 bail. - photo by Courtesy of Ceres Police

One adult male and two minors have been arrested by Ceres Police on suspicion of sex trafficking stemming from a complex investigation.

Marcus Lopez, 18, of Modesto was booked in the County Jail for human trafficking related charges and being held on a $300,000 bail. Also arrested are a 16-year-old boy and the15-year-old female.

The three were arrested when the car they were riding in dropped off a 16-year-old suspected female prostitute at a motel on Herndon Road and took off after police tried to intercept them.

Earlier this month Ceres Police detectives pursued multiple tips of minors being used in an area prostitution ring. The investigation led to two possible suspects and additional victims being identified.

In an effort to identify possible suspects and victims, police conducted a sting operation at the motel. The operation set up a meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Police saw a gold-colored Ford Contour drop off the 16-year-old girl and take off with three other persons. Undercover police units found the Ford traveling southbound on Herndon Road and initiated a traffic stop. Instead of pulling over the driver accelerated. The pursuit snaked through residential neighborhoods until a marked police cruiser disabled the car with a Police Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver in the 1700 block of Boothe Road. Lopez and the two minors were not injured and taken into custody.

A search of the car turned up two loaded handguns and a large amount of cash.

The 16-year-old girl suspected of prostitution was detained was interviewed and released to family.

The investigation was described as complex and ongoing. Police are urging anyone with information about the incident to call Detective Julio Amador at 538-5729. Persons may remain anonymous.