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Fall River residents charged with human trafficking

Two Fall River residents have been indicted on charges related to their alleged participation in a human trafficking operation, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced Friday.

Olivia “Missy” Lara, 38, was indicted by a Bristol County grand jury Thursday on three counts of trafficking in persons under the age of 18 for sexual servitude and three counts of deriving support from a minor prostitute.

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Feliciano Ramirez, 30, was indicted on one count of rape of a child in allegedly engaging in sex with one of the children that Lara was allegedly providing to customers, Coakley said in a statement.

The investigation into the operation began last December after New Bedford police told US Homeland Security that they believed a local woman, now identified as Lara, was trafficking underage girls for sexual purposes, Coakley said.

“We allege that [Lara] exploited and sold children for sex, sometimes up to five times in a night, and personally profited from this activity,” Coakley said.

Lara would allegedly bring the girls to a car or residence where the men would have sex with them. She would allegedly receive at least half the profits from these encounters, Coakley said.

Authorities believe that Ramirez was one of Lara’s customers and that he engaged in sexual acts with one of the minors, Coakley said.

“I sincerely hope that this sends a very clear message,” Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Boston, said in the statement. “Human trafficking simply will not be tolerated.”

Lara and Ramirez were arrested Jan. 15 by State Police assigned to the attorney general’s office.

During their arraignment in Fall River District Court, Lara was held on $100,000 cash bail, and Ramirez was held on $25,000 cash bail, Coakley said. They are to be arraigned in Bristol Superior Court at a later date.

Jacqueline Tempera can be reached at jacqueline.tempera
@globe.com
. Follow her on Twitter @jacktemp.
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