July 4 (UPI) -- A court in California sentenced a woman arrested for human trafficking at the age of 16 to 13 years in prison for organizing a prostitution ring of 14- and 15-year-old girls, court records indicate.
Police arrested Jelinajane Bedrijo Almario, whose 18th birthday was on July 1, in May 2016. She was tried as an adult on charges of human trafficking of a minor, sending threatening emails to a family member of one of the victims and making terrorist threats in Kings County Superior Court. She was sentenced Monday.
Prosecutors argued that Bedrijo trafficked four girls between the ages of 14 and 15 for a few weeks by posting their pictures on websites that carry prostitution ads and then driving them to meet clients at motels in central California's Tulare County area.
Although Bedrijo was a minor at the time of her crimes and a year or two older than the victims, Hanford police Detective Richard Pontecorvo accused her of manipulating young girls' minds.
"These people are great at locating kids with low self-esteem and trying to be their friend, and then it obviously changes once they started working for her," he said, according to the Fresno Bee.
"We were able to get these girls back home and get them the help they needed," he added. "But these pimps are ruining these kids' lives at an early age."