An 18-year-old Hanford, Calif. woman was sentenced to 13 years in prison for her role in the pimping and human trafficking of younger girls.
Hanford police detectives arrested Jelinajane Bedrijo Almario in May 2016. Though a juvenile, she was tried as an adult for human trafficking, sending threatening emails to a family member of at least one of the girls and making terrorist threats.
She was sentenced on Monday in Kings County Superior Court, two days after her 18th birthday.
Almario’s scheme, which last a few weeks, involved posting pictures of the younger girls on different websites for prostitution, then taking the girls to motels off Highway 99 in Tulare County, said Hanford police Detective Richard Pontecorvo.
Almario was the prime suspect, he said. The ring involved four girls between the ages of 14-and-15-years-old, Pontecorvo said.
“These girls would run away for weekends or work a couple of nights,” he said.
Almario found the girls through friends or acquaintances and social media.
“These people are great at locating kids with low self-esteem and trying to be their friend, and then it obviously changes once they started working for her,” said Pontecorvo.
The human trafficking and prostitution ring went on for several weeks last spring, he said.
During that time, one of the mothers of one of the victims was looking for her daughter, and Almario sent her threatening text messages, Pontecorvo said.
“We were able to get these girls back home and get them the help they needed,” he said. “But these pimps are ruining these kids’ lives at an early age.”
The case was surprising for Hanford, Pontecorvo said, considering that Almario was both a juvenile and the prime pimping suspect.
“It was a huge eye-opener for us,” he said. “But we caught her case very early, so we were able to pull those girls out of that.”