Photo: Trevor Ferrel
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY — Social media can be an amazing tool to reconnect with old friends and make new ones, but it can also be a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands.
Proof of this surfaced back in August 2017, when the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Human Trafficking Unit learned that someone using an illegal Facebook profile alias was making efforts to make illicit contact with underage females on the world’s most ubiquitous social media platform.
According to SBSD Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover, the investigation soon identified 31-year-old Santa Maria resident Trevor Ferrel in connection with the use of “false identity to contact juvenile or teen-aged females in an attempt to solicit nude pictures” and to entice them into “various sex acts.” Part of Ferrel’s insidious ploy was to threaten to post the nude photos on Facebook or to send the images to the girls’ parents.
With law enforcement on his trail, in September 2017, he was contacted through social media by “an undercover detective posing as a juvenile female” who negotiated with Ferrel a financial agreement to personally meet with the promise of “specific sex acts.” That meeting never took place, but the investigators then served a search warrant on Ferrel’s bogus Facebook account and learned that he had made other multiple attempts to make personal contact with underage females.
In December 2017, the SBSD HTU detective contacted Ferrel once again through his alias account, and a “specific location, date, and time was scheduled” for a meeting to engage in specific sex acts.
This time Ferrel rose to the bait and arrived at the schedule time and location on the afternoon of January 2nd, whereupon he was met with “a group of investigators” and was summarily arrested and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail where he was booked on charges of arranging a meeting for the purpose of a lewd act with a juvenile and arriving at a location for the purpose of a lewd act with a juvenile, with his bail set at $150,000.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking