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RENO, Nev. — Two Northern California siblings caught in a sex-trafficking sting in Reno last week had been forcing their 14-year-old cousin to work as a prostitute since she was 11 years old, authorities said Wednesday.
"She shared with us that she had been living this lifestyle, working as a prostitute for them, since two months before her 12th birthday," Sgt. Ron Chalmers of the Regional Street Enforcement Team said of the girl rescued during the undercover operation.
The weekend sting was part of a nationwide, three-day FBI operation that targeted pandering in 76 cities. The FBI arrested 105 people and recovered 105 children allegedly forced to work as prostitutes.
Shanequa Charles, 22, and her 19-year-old brother, Jamourian, of Carmichael, Calif., were arrested Saturday as they waited at a hotel while the girl met with a man who responded to an online ad, according to authorities. The man was actually working undercover for the team, authorities said.
Police also found pornography of the girl and pornographic ads depicting all three of them, Chalmers said. The Charleses also allegedly worked as prostitutes.
Both were arrested on suspicion of pandering a child, and Shanequa Charles was also held on suspicion of using a minor to produce pornography. She is being held without bail at Washoe County Jail.
Chalmers said it has become common for girls to enter the sex-trafficking trade when they are 12 to 14 years old.
"I don't think I've ever seen an 11-year-old," he said. "It's a disturbing trend."
The girl was barefoot, so the team bought her some tennis shoes, Chalmers said. The girl was placed in a juvenile facility to keep her safe until arrangements could be made for her in Sacramento, he said.
The girl had been listed as a runaway and told police that she found her mother dead several years ago, Chalmers said.