Madeline Ackley Arizona Republic
(CNT) City News And Talk
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A Valley man suspected of sex trafficking four minors in May was arrested by Mesa Police’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking unit after one of the victims contacted police, according to police records.
Jason Vangundy, 37, has been accused of prostituting four girls between the ages of 16 and 17. Two of the victims have come forward, while police have yet to locate the other two.
At least one of the victims was previously reported missing and all four of the victims had run away from group homes, said Detective Jason Flam, a spokesperson for the Mesa Police Department.
Vangundy had met the girls online and housed them in his apartment, said police. He provided them with phones and taught them how to set up online profiles to meet unknown men for sex. Police said that Vangundy took a portion of the money they made from sex acts.
A search warrant confirmed that Vangundy had purchased five phones through Cricket and his name was used to reserve the Mesa hotel room when police were initially called in May.
The two victims located by police were identified only as victim one and victim two. Victim one gave “a detailed account of being transported from the defendant’s residence to various hotels or other locations throughout the Valley to commit acts of prostitution,” according to a police report.
Victim two told officers that she performed sexual acts with Vangundy and that he was “fully aware” of her age and that she was “‘on the run’ from a group home,” according to the police report.
During an interview with police, Vangundy denied being involved in prostitution or knowing that the girls were underage or missing, but admitted that two of the girls lived with him, that he had bought them cellphones and that he received money from one of the girls.
Vangundy was not arrested until Oct. 8 because police wanted to locate the other two victims, said Flam. The two missing victims were not found in five months, so officers decided to arrest him. It is unclear when the victims were removed from Vangundy.
Vangundy is scheduled for arraignment Oct. 27 and is facing charges related to human child sex trafficking, illegal control of an enterprise involving minors and money laundering. He is being held on a $250,000 bond.