Child sex trafficking arrests: 2 men facing charges

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Oshay Small, 24 (left), and Cornelius Wells, 21 (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Oshay Small, 24 (left), and Cornelius Wells, 21 (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Oshay Small (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Oshay Small (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Cornelius Wells (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Cornelius Wells (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Cornelius Wells at his initial court appearance (Source: Maricopa County Superior Court) Cornelius Wells at his initial court appearance (Source: Maricopa County Superior Court)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Two men in their 20s are facing charges of child sex trafficking in the culmination of a five-month investigation by the Mesa Police Department's Human Exploitation and Tracking Unit.

Detectives believe Oshay Small, 24, and Cornelius Wells, 21, contacted the first victims – two 15-year-old girls – on Facebook in late March. It was less than a week before those girls were being exploited -- sold for sex -- by Small and Well, police say.

"The victims left home and were reported as runaways while they were being exploited," according to a Mesa Police Department news release.

As they ran their investigation, detectives discovered another juvenile victim and two adult women.

Police said some of the victims were taken to Tucson and as far away as El Paso.

"The suspects used Backpage.com to advertise and locate commercial sex buyers and received the proceeds from exploiting the victims," the MPD news release explained.

[READ MORE: Backpage.com executives plead Fifth in hearing on sex trafficking]

Detectives located Small and Wells at a hotel near Metro Center Mall. One of the women was with the men when police arrested them.

According to the probable cause for arrest statement filed for Wells, he "admitted he met Victim 2 [one of the 15-year-old girls] on Facebook and stated Victim 2 asked him to be her pimp."

"Wells stated he did it to impress her but he did not get any money from her or force her do stuff," the court documents continue. "Wells denied being involved with any other prostituted girls."

At Wells' initial court appearance over the weekend, a commissioner set a secured appearance bond of $50,000 and mandated electronic monitoring should he post and be released.

[WATCH RAW VIDEO: Wells' initial court appearance]

"In Arizona, the average age a victim entering sex trafficking is 14 years old," according to the Mesa Police Department. "The victimization and trauma of sex trafficking alter the lives of our victimized women and children. We as a society must act to end the victimization of women -- especially our young women. If you have information about someone being trafficked, contact your local police department or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or humantraffickinghotline.org." (Click the phone number to call from this story on your mobile device.)

[RELATED: Sex trafficking survivor discusses challenges of breaking free at Mesa conference]

[RELATED: Documentary taking on sex-trafficking premieres in Arizona]

[RELATED: Phoenix officials raise awareness about human trafficking with new PSA]

[PDF: Teen sex trafficking]

[PDF: Court documents for Cornelius Wells]


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