Two accused of human trafficking, one pleads to prostitution charge

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One of two men accused of human trafficking pleaded no contest Friday to taking a person for prostitution without consent, a felony.

Eric Hamwey, 31, of Encino, and his co-accused, Michael Shaw, 37, of Santa Clarita, appeared Friday in San Fernando Superior Court.

“Hamwey pleaded no contest to one felony count of taking a person for prostitution without consent and two misdemeanor counts of tattoo person under 18 years,” Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.

Victims forced into prostitution are sometimes “branded” with a tattoo by their traffickers, according detectives describing human trafficking.

Hamwey was charged with human trafficking to commit another crime, pandering by procuring and pimping. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 5, 2019.

Shaw faces two counts of human trafficking to commit another crime and pimping, three counts of possession of firearm by a felon and a charge of pandering by procuring. He  is scheduled back in court on May 9, 2018.

The two men were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking May 5, 2016.

Ashley Peart, 29, of Santa Clarita, who was arrested on suspicion of robbery in connection with the same incident, saw the case against her dismissed by a judge just under a year ago after hearing evidence presented at a preliminary hearing.

The three were arrested by officers of the LASD’s Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force who executed search warrants at five locations throughout Southern California, according to a news release issued by Dep. Lisa Jansen in May 2016.

Deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station responded to a call for help and learned that Shaw was allegedly trafficking an adult victim for sex and had violently assaulted her when she tried to get away.

Shaw had fled the scene, however, by the time deputies got there.

Human trafficking detectives, meanwhile, learned Hamwey had previously befriended the victim on Instagram and flown her out to California from Texas for the purpose of commercial adult sex work.  After a short time, Hamwey “sold” the victim to Shaw, Jansen said.

“After being trafficked by (Shaw) for several weeks, the victim attempted to flee and was assaulted by Suspect Shaw and Suspect Peart who also robbed the victim.  The victim sustained serious injuries during the assault,” Jansen wrote in her news release.

Subsequently, human trafficking detectives with the help of local sheriff’s deputies, executed search warrants at two locations in Santa Clarita.  Similar searches were carried out in North Hollywood and Encino.

During the searches, human trafficking detectives found a second woman they identified as a victim of human sex trafficking.

More than 100 pieces of evidence were recovered, including three handguns, cash, computers, and numerous cellular telephones.

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