CHANDLER, AZ — Chandler police say one less girl is being sold for sex. The department arrested Chanel Barnes on a warrant Friday for seven counts of child sex trafficking.
The 17-year-old victim told investigators Barnes set up more than 20 "car dates" in just four days. Police say Barnes, 28, was acting as the teen's pimp.
In addition to the child sex trafficking charges, Barnes is facing charges for possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, carrying a deadly weapon as a felon, and possessing a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony.
The investigation began with a Chandler police traffic stop in May 2018.
The officer pulled Barnes over for swerving and suspected impairment. He also smelled marijuana during the traffic stop and noticed Barnes had many indicators. A young girl in the passenger seat also caught the officer's attention. "She [was] dressed very provocatively," said Detective Seth Tyler, a spokesperson for Chandler police.
Police found 30 grams of marijuana and a gun in the car. Both of which police say Barnes lied about and is prohibited from having, since she was out on bond and on supervised release.
Once police separated the teen from Barnes, the two started telling different stories.
"According to the victim, Chanel [Barnes] pimped her out 20 to 25 times," said Tyler. All of those sexual transactions happened over the course of four days. The teen said she "wasn't in that deep" to the prostitution trade.
"Many of these girls are trapped."
The girl told investigators that Barnes took sexually suggestive pictures of her for online ads and said they were going to make "serious money."
The girl said she saw almost none of that money, and after the sexual encounters, she would give all the cash to Barnes who would "sometimes give her half" but often just pay for her hair and nails.
"They had just come from a car date at a Lowe's," said Tyler, referring to the night of the traffic stop arrest.
That same night, the teen told police she had met a man at a Mesa Hilton. The teen said she had forgotten a condom, so she used the buyer's phone to text Barnes to bring one to the room. Investigators say they found those texts on the phone and also pulled surveillance video showing the teen entering the hotel, followed by Barnes ten minutes later.
Once officers had Barnes in custody "they noticed her phone was pinging a lot."
Instantly, one of the officers noticed a theme to the messages: "Are you available...?" "I am clean." "Let me know when you get here..." It was a red flag that helped police make the connection seconds after the traffic stop arrest.
"Obviously it was something that was in demand," said Det. Tyler.
Chandler police say the demand is not going away, but it's important to arrest as many pimps and buyers as possible.
Detectives say if you notice something suspicious, whether in a parking lot or hotel lobby, do not hesitate to call police, especially if it looks like a child may be involved.
The teen in Barnes' case was released to the custody of her mother, who according to investigators was "incredibly upset" the girl was victimized.