Mesa police detectives in the Human Exploitation and Tracking Unit (HEaT) at the Mesa Family Advocacy Center completed a five-month sexual exploitation and trafficking case resulting in the arrest of Oshay Small, 24, and Cornelius Wells, 21, for multiple counts of child sex trafficking and other related crimes.
The suspects initially contacted the first victims, 15-year-old females, through Facebook and began exploiting them about four days later, said Detective Nik Rasheta, a spokesperson for the Mesa Police Department. He said the victims left home and were reported as runaways while they were being exploited. During the course of the investigation, detectives learned about an additional juvenile female and two adult females being exploited. Some of the victims were transported to Tucson and El Paso, Texas.
Rasheta said the suspects used Backpage.com to advertise and locate commercial sex buyers and received the proceeds from exploiting the victims.
“Detectives located the suspects at a hotel near Metro Center Mall in Phoenix,” Rasheta said. “The suspects were taken into custody by Mesa PD SWAT and detectives. An adult female victim was with the suspects at the time of arrest.”
In Arizona, the average age a victim entering sex trafficking is 14 years old. The victimization and trauma of sex trafficking alters the lives of victimized women and children.
If you have information about someone being trafficked, contact your local police department or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 or humantraffickinghotline.org.
The Mesa Police Department partners with organizations and survivor advocates to assist victims after being exploited or trafficked. Their partnership with the Hickey Family Foundation was crucial to the success of this investigation, Rasheta said.