A 15 year-old girl who was kidnapped by two marijuana growers in California was locked in a metal toolbox and forced to work as their sex slave.
Police say the teenager was kept in a 4-foot long, 2-foot wide metal box next to the pair’s trailer. Authorities found a noose, a rack used to hold someone against their will and sex devices related to bondage at the scene, KSDK reports.
"Pot’s one thing, but sexual abuse is very bad,” Jimmy Martinez, a resident who lives near the large-scale marijuana grow operation in Clear Lake, Calif., told KRCA. "That’s absolutely wrong."
The teenager told police the men called her a “trooper” for not screaming while being held inside the box. Authorities say the men also forced the girl to work in their illegal marijuana operation. She cut and prepared the pot to be sold.
The two men accused in her kidnapping, Ryan Balletto, 30, and Patrick Pearmain, 24, are in prison accused of running the grow operation and kidnapping the teenager. Balletto was arrested on drug and weapons charges. His girlfriend, Christa McConnell, was arrested on weapons and child endangerment charges and Pearmain on drug charges, according to jail records.
The FBI was already investigating the operation that had nearly 1,500 marijuana plants when the Los Angeles Police Department alerted local authorities that a teenager might have been kidnapped and held captive in the area, KION reports. The teen was reported missing by the LAPD in April, KGO reports.
Police found the girl in a Sacramento motel. She called authorities who traced her whereabouts. When police arrived, the two men were taken into custody, KGO reports.
On Wednesday, authorities served a search warrant on the 681-acre property owned by Balletto and of his home in the nearby town of north Lakeport, Calif.
Besides the toolbox where the teen was held captive, the 1,491 plants and $4,000 in cash police confiscated – authorities found what they described as the “largest and most sophisticated bulk of weapons seized in recent Lake County Sheriff's Office history."
The 22 weapons included high powered military grade sniper and assault rifles, automatic assault rifles and pistols. Five children who were living on the property were also taken into custody by Child Protective Services, Lake County News reports.
For area residents the news didn’t come as a shock. "They grow pot everywhere in Lake County," Bob Clouse, a nearby resident told the New York Daily News. "It's ridiculous that they get away with it, especially that much."