A 15-year-old L.A. girl was held as a sex slave at a Northern California pot farm, authorities said over the weekend.
The teen was held in box 4 feet by 2 feet wide, Lt. Steve Brooks of the Lake County Sheriff's Department said in a statement. The box had drilled air holes and a blanket, he said:
It appears the victim was there for about three weeks in spring after she was reported missing from L.A., the lieutenant said.
While at the ranch she was forced to trim the marijuana and have sexual intercourse, including sodomy and oral sex with Balletto and Pearmain. She told the detectives she was locked in the box and only fed crackers. There was a water bottle with a straw that would fit through the holes on the side of the box.
Ryan Alan Balletto was arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking but was soon charged with human trafficking, sex with a minor under 16 years of age, oral copulation, sodomy, false imprisonment, molestation, and more, cops said.
Patrick Pearmain, with whom the girl was allegedly found in a West Sacramento hotel room, was also arrested on suspicion of drug violations but was later charged with human trafficking, unlawful intercourse with a minor under 16 years of age, oral copulation, false imprisonment and molestation, according to the Lake County department.
A third suspect, Eric Edgar of L.A., was reportedly arrested in May in connection with the Lake County sex allegations.
The case started April 12 when members of the Lake County Sheriff's Narcotics Task Force flew over Balletto's property in the Ogulin Canyon area near Clearlake Oaks and discovered two green houses believed to be concealing marijuana grow operations, cops said.
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On April 30, Lake County officials say, the LAPD contacted them to inquire about a missing teen believed to be on that property.
That night cops did a door-knock at Balletto's separate residence in Upper Lake, according to Lt. Brooks. A woman who said she was Balletto's girlfriend denied knowing anything about a missing girl, he said.
The next morning the missing teen called authorities to report she was safe in Sacramento with a man named Ryan, the lieutenant said.
That night West Sacramento cops say they found the girl at a hotel with suspect Pearmain.
On May 1 cops served a search warrant on Balletto's 681-acre property. Besides finding "the largest and most sophisticated bulk of weapons seized in recent Lake County Sheriff's Office history," including sniper and assault rifles, body armor and scopes, Brooks says ...
... detectives found multiple sexual items including sex bondage equipment, lingerie and large metal box with holes in it.
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Balletto, he said, was found "hunkered down" in a trailer on his property.
On May 17, Brooks said, federal authorities, including the FBI, conducted a search of the property for more items allegedly connected to the sex-abuse case.
The sheriff's department revealed the whole, lurid story in a statement released over the weekend.