2 arrested in human trafficking operation; 3 teenage girls freed, police say

Long Beach police arrested two people on suspicion of human trafficking and found three teenage girls who had been reported as missing, authorities said Friday.

Detectives began their investigation after reports last month of the prostitution of a minor girl near the 100 block of 28th Street, in the Wrigley area. Officers arranged to meet the girl, who gave them permission to search her phone, authorities said.

That search led to two other girls being identified as trafficking victims, one of them possibly across state lines, police said. The three girls are age 15, 16 and 17, and were listed as missing in Long Beach, San Bernardino and Hemet, respectively.

The victims relayed to detectives the name of a man believed to be involved in pimping the girls. Brandon Ruff, 32, of Carson, was taken into custody on Aug. 28 and arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment and human trafficking.

Detectives on Sept. 3 also arrested Dezere Romero, 21, of San Bernardino, on suspicion of human trafficking and prostitution. Police said they believe Romero was helping Ruff manage the girls.

Ruff is being held on $450,000 bail, and Romero is being held on $470,000 bail.

The victims were provided with services through the Los Angeles County First Responder Protocol for Sexually Exploited Children. Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call the Long Beach Police Department’s Vice Investigation Detail at 562-570-7219.

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.