Posted on: March 17, 2022, 06:01h.
Last updated on: March 17, 2022, 06:01h.
A teenage runaway who was trafficked into prostitution in Las Vegas has helped LVMPD entrap her alleged trafficker.
According to an arrest report seen by 8NewsNow, police detained Branden Amir Range in a sting operation last Friday at Bally’s Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
He has been charged with sex-trafficking a child under 18, kidnapping a minor, promoting sexual performance of a minor 14-plus, and child abuse.
His alleged victim, whose name and age are redacted in the report, was reported missing by her family. Metro police received a tip that the girl was being advertised on a website commonly used by men to solicit prostitutes.
According to the report, an undercover officer contacted the girl via the website on the pretext of negotiating a sexual encounter. Metro vice detectives assigned to the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force were able to win the teen’s trust, and she told them Range was her pimp.
Investigators then set up a meeting with range at Bally’s. He thought he was meeting a girl who wanted to work for him. In fact, it was an undercover officer.
During their meeting, Range bragged that he was carrying a gun and narcotics. He was arrested on the spot.
The girl told police she would usually communicate with Range by using TextNow, which can’t be traced because messages sent through the app are not picked up by the mobile network provider. TextNow itself does not disclose information about the identity of the person using its services.
But investigators were able to access some messages sent via Instagram in which Range discusses business and orders the girl to “hit trop [The Tropicana] for like 2 hours.”
Range was found to have an outstanding warrant in his home state of California. He is also prohibited from possessing a firearm because of multiple previous convictions in that state.
In 2017, The Daily Breeze reported that Range was arrested as the suspect in a string of residential break-ins in affluent Palos Verdes Estates, Los Angeles County.
Casinos Attract Traffickers
LVMPD has recently stepped up its fight against sex-trafficking, which is a problem in Las Vegas. The department says 400 children are picked off the streets from prostitution each year.
Anti-trafficking campaigner Annie Sovcik told the World Game Protection Conference in Las Vegas last month that casinos were prime destinations for sex traffickers. That’s because they attract customers who are willing to spend money and take risks and because they are attached to hotel complexes.
Sovcik urged casino operators to train staff to spot telltale signs of trafficking so casinos can become refuges for victims, rather than places where they are traded like cattle.