McLennan County, Tx (FOX44) – UPDATE: The McLennan County Sheriff’s Office reports two more arrests in the case of two young girls who were runaways and became trafficking victims.
33-year-old Justin Anthony Phillips and 24-year-old Ricardo Chavez Ariaga have been booked into the McLennan County Jail initially on charges of harboring a runaway child. Both were arrested at their respective residences on Monday by McLennan County detectives.
30-year-old James Robert VanHouten was arrested earlier initially on a charge of harboring a runaway – but now has had an additional trafficking charge added.
VanHouten was arrested at his home in Georgetown after a 15-20 minute standoff with McLennan County Detectives and Georgetown Police. He was booked into the Williamson County Jail on the new trafficking charge and was expected to be brought to McLennan County Jail within a few days.
Detectives from the Human Trafficking/Child Exploitation Unit have continued their in-depth investigation into the case from the beginning, and has been gathering further information – resulting in the new arrests.
They report their investigation is not complete, and it is expected there will be more arrests in the coming days.
Sheriff McNamara released a statement after the new arrests, saying: “We are going to make these scumbags accountable for what they did to these young girls. There will be more charges and more arrests to come. We are not going to let up.”
The investigation began with McGregor Police, who took a runaway report on two 14-year-old girls on June 28. On July 4, an Amber Alert was issued for both girls – with assistance from the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office requested.
Over the next several hours, MCSO Detectives and Deputies interviewed numerous people and checked multiple residences in different towns looking for both girls.
Deputies with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office then found and recovered Emiliee Solomon and Aysha Cross in Williamson County.