June 20 2019
WEST LINN, Oregon - On March 22, the West Linn Police Department was hosting training for neighboring agencies on Investigating Human Trafficking. The investigators teaching the class had posted an advertisement on escort related websites. Throughout the class the phone connected to the ad continually rang with would be customers looking to employ the services of a fictitious 19 year old who listed her location as being in West Linn.
One of those callers, Rene Cruz Mesa of Vancouver, agreed, while on speakerphone in a classroom of detectives and officers, to meet the woman for a "tryst." Mr. Cruz Mesa stated he was working in West Linn as a landscaper and just needed to know where to go. The investigator posing as the 19 year old gave Mr. Cruz Mesa the address to the West Linn Police Department. Much to the bewilderment of those in attendance, Mr. Cruz Mesa drove to the police department and continued to speak with the investigator even providing her with a description of his landscaping truck.
Unfortunately for Mr. Cruz Mesa, he was met by West Linn Police in front of the police department. Mr. Cruz was cited and released for Prostitution.
West Linn Lieutenant Mike Stradley stated, "I have never heard of a classroom demonstration that lead to an arrest like this". Chief Terry Timeus added, "This highlights a concerning issue facing the Portland Metropolitan Region." The ad received 38 phone calls, 16 of which came during the class presentation.
The average age of a girl forced into prostitution is 13 years old. According to Shared Home International, Human Trafficking, in particular sex trafficking, has become the second most lucrative commodity traded illegally, after drugs. The National Runaway Hotline reports that one out of every three teens on the street will be sexually trafficked in 48 hours. Statistically, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says that means at least 150,000 children will be lured into prostitution each year.
Community resources can be accessed through the Sexual Assault Resource Center and the Portland Women's Crisis Line 24 hours a day at 1-888-640-5311.
Mr. Cruz Mesa is 40 years old from Woodburn, Oregon and not Vancouver, Washington. This update includes his photo.