RENO, NV (KOLO) Four Reno men have been charged in connection with a child sex trafficking operation uncovered by an FBI-led Task Force.
In the operation, ads appeared in a pair of websites, promising sexual encounters with young women, featuring pictures of them in their underwear.
The young women were, according to investigators, young girls, just 14, being marketed by a pair of roommates, 26-year-old Kevin Belcher--also known as "Teddy Ross", and 20-year-old Mason Heath.
One girl told investigators she met Belcher through Facebook. He encouraged her to run away from the group home where she was living and then was told she was going to prostitute for him. She said no, she said, and he threatened her, saying, "Bitch, you're going to do this."
The two men ran the operation out of a Smithridge apartment, setting up so-called car dates where men answering the ads would pick them up, taking them elsewhere. One girl told investigators she was taken behind the former Toys 'R Us store nearby on one occasion, to a Motel 6 another time.
According to arrest reports, Belcher gave Heath the money to rent a room at another Motel 6 in northwest Reno, where he set up two girls for sexual encounters. The johns--she said--usually paid about $200 each time, Belcher collecting and keeping the money.
One one occasion, one of the girls said, Belcher beat and robbed a client who refused to pay an agreed amount.
The girls told investigators they too were threatened with violence if they didn't continue. One told investigators Heath punched and slapped her, frequently leaving bruises.
In some instances the men who answered the ads apparently walked away when they saw how young the girls were. Others did not.
Belcher was arrested in April, Heath in May. The latest arrests involve twin brothers Trent and Trevor Burt, 20, who apparently were friends with Heath when all three attended Damonte Ranch High School and lived with him at the Smithridge address. The Burts have since been released from jail.
One of the girls reportedly met Belcher through the Burt brothers, but although it's alleged they knew of the sex trafficking operation, they have been charged only with statutory sexual seduction so far.
Belcher faces a list of charges. including battery, child abuse, open and gross lewdness, coercing with force and sex trafficking of a child under 16. He is being held on a total bond of $475 thousand.
Heath was booked on sex trafficking of a child under 16 and statutory sexual seduction. He was booked on $300 thousand bond.
The Burt brothers were booked on $10 thousand bond apiece.
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