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Fall River woman faces human trafficking charges

A Fall River woman is facing human trafficking charges for allegedly arranging for adults to have sex with minor children in the Fall River area, and for allegedly collecting the money from the men and keeping it for herself.

Olivia Lara, 38, also known as “Missy,” was arraigned in Fall River District Court Thursday on charges of three counts of trafficking in persons under the age of 18 for sexual servitude and three counts of deriving support from a minor prostitute, according to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office, which is prosecuting.

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Bail was set at $100,000 cash.

Prosecutors have also charged Feliciano Ramirez -- whom authorities described as a ‘john’ -- with rape of a child and sex for a fee for allegedly paying Lara so he could have sex with a minor child in his car. Ramirez, 30, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Fall River District Court where bail was set at $25,000 cash, according to prosecutors.

“These allegations are egregious and disturbing,” said Fall River Police Chief Daniel S. Racine said in a statement released by Coakley’s office. . “It is the law enforcement community’s primary responsibility to protect our most vulnerable population from exploitation and victimization.”

Massachusetts State Police arrested both Lara and Ramirez without incident Wednesday night, authorities said.

According to prosecutors, the investigation that led to the arrest of Lara and Ramirez began last month when New Bedford police were tipped off that a woman in Fall River was involved in trafficking underage girls for sexual purposes.

Authorities allege that Lara would meet with male patrons of a Fall River bar and then arrange for them to have sex with the minors for a fee. She would then allegedly coordinate meetings between minors and adult patrons in homes, garages and vehicles.

During her court appearance Thursday, Lara began screaming, crying, and striking her head against the plexiglass in the courtroom, the Fall River Herald reported. Additional security was brought in to restrain her and evacuate the courtroom, the newspaper reported.

These arrests are the product of a joint operation by state, federal and local law enforcement, authorities said.

Jennifer Smith can be reached at jennifer.smith@globe.com
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