Two pot growers in Northern California allegedly kept a missing 15-year-old in a locked metal box for days, had sex with her, and forced her to process marijuana, CBS San Fransisco reports.
Ryan Balletto, 30, and Patrick Pearmain, 24, have been charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, using a minor in a drug operation, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.
An LA police detective cracked the case by calling the sheriff’s department in Lake County, saying he got a tip that the missing 15-year-old was being held against her will on Balletto’s property, according to a criminal complaint cited by The LA Times.
When the authorities initially visited Balletto’s 680-acre property in Lake County, they didn’t find anything amiss.
The next day the girl called police to say she was OK, but she was reading from a script prepared by her captors, according to the criminal complaint. Police say they traced the call and found the girl in a hotel in West Sacramento, Calif. with Pearmain.
At the hotel, police say they found what appeared to be a script for the girl to read. “I just want to make sure Ryan Balletto doesn’t get into any trouble if you have any questions,” the script read, according to the complaint.
When police found the girl, she told them she’d engaged in sex with both men, who were keeping her because of her superior marijuana “trimming” and processing skills.
After bringing the girl into protective custody, authorities raided the Balletto’s property where they allegedly found a metal box with holes in it. The girl said she’d been in there for three days and was given water and “showers” through a hose inserted in the box.
There are signs the 15-year-old may not be the only victim, the LA Times reported, noting police say they found bondage tools on the property and a rack that looked like it was used to “hoist and immobilize people.”
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