The Oregon man and three women -- ages 18, 19 and 22 -- were nabbed Saturday after an undercover Snohomish County deputy sheriff posed as a customer and lured them to a south Everett hotel. They'd advertised sex on a website.
One of the women identified Tremayne S. Jones, 29, as their pimp and described living in constant fear of him, court papers said.
On Saturday, Jones was arrested for investigation of trafficking, promoting prostitution and obstructing police.
The standard sentencing range for trafficking is seven to 10 years in prison.
The woman told investigators that Jones picked her up in Indiana about a month ago and that she and two others were "turning tricks" for him in different states. She said he kept all the money, which she estimated at thousands of dollars a day, according to court records.
Jones allegedly drove them through Indiana, Utah, Oregon and Washington to have them engage in prostitution.
The woman told investigators that Jones took all of her identification, including her Social Security and credit cards, and determined how much food she could eat. She said he claimed to be a member of a California street gang.
"She described one incident where the defendant fired a gun in the air next to one of the girls who was not doing what he told her to do," deputy prosecutor Lisa Paul wrote in a motion to increase bail. "The woman told police that she was afraid to leave the defendant."
Saturday's arrest is by no means an isolated incident in Snohomish County, according to Providence Intervention Center for Assault and Abuse officials.
"Our community faces human trafficking on a daily basis," said Azra Grudic, a victim advocate for the center. "It is often difficult to recognize the signs of trafficking."
Advocates and law enforcement have been working together in recent years to reach out to more victims. In March 2011, a 24-hour Snohomish County Human Trafficking Hotline was started. It connects the FBI, sheriff's office and Everett police detectives with intervention center advocates to help victims. The hotline number is 425-258-9037.
"Many victims fear repercussion from the perpetrator," Grudic said.
Sex traffickers use a variety of methods to condition their victims into compliance, including starvation, confinement, physical abuse and threats of revealing their activities to their families, she said.
Deputies allege that on Saturday, Jones drove two of the women to a local hotel to engage in prostitution.
One of the women allegedly advertised as "Alexza Lust" under the escort section of Backpage.com, court papers said.
The undercover officer contacted the woman, who directed him to the hotel near I-5 south of Everett. She brought another woman with her after asking the undercover officer if he was interested in them both.
The women became suspicious and fled when the undercover officer tried to bait her into leaving her hotel room to meet him at the front desk.
Another deputy spotted the women getting into a car. Jones allegedly tried to drive off but was blocked in.
Deputies found a handgun in the car.
Jones has been under investigation for sex trafficking on and off since at least 2005, according to court papers. In one case in Oregon, he reportedly escaped police by jumping from a second-story window.
It is unclear what charges he may face here.
"It's still under investigation," sheriff's office spokeswoman Shari Ireton said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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