Calif. man arrested in sex trafficking bust in Mesa

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Leon Jerome Daniels By Jennifer Thomas Leon Jerome Daniels By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- A 27-year-old California man was arrested on suspicion of sex trafficking and child prostitution after a 17-year-old girl and a woman agreed to meet an undercover FBI agent in a Mesa hotel for sex.

Leon Jerome Daniels was arrested Saturday evening and booked into jail on child prostitution, sex trafficking and pandering charges.

The Greater Phoenix Human Trafficking Task Force and other FBI agents were specifically targeting possible sex trafficking associated with the NFL's Super Bowl on Sunday. Their attention was drawn to an ad posted in the "escort" section of Backpage.com.

The agent called the phone number and asked the female voice if she was available for a "date." He arranged to meet the person and her "friend" for a sexual encounter at a Days Inn in Mesa.

Task force members in the parking lot saw Daniels and another woman leave a motel room and get into a car and the agent received a text telling him to come to the same room.

The woman and teen allowed the agent into the room and acknowledged they were there to be paid for sex. Members of the task force forced their way into the room and detained the two females, who identified Daniels as their pimp.

Daniels and the third woman were detained after he was seen driving back to the Days Inn.

The 17-year-old told officers she was from Ontario, California, and had been working for Daniels one and half months and the last two days in Arizona as a prostitute.

She said she, the two other women and Daniels had come to the Valley from San Bernardino, California, to work the large crowds in town for the Super Bowl.

One of the other women claimed she was frequently beaten and abused mentally by Daniels.