A 15-year-old girl was reported missing from her San Fernando Valley home on April 2nd. She was rescued this week, and had been kept at a northern California marijuana farm, imprisoned in a metal box.
The juvenile, whose name is being withheld, is believed to have been living on the streets of Hollywood when she came in contact with Ryan Balletto, age 30. She was taken to Balletto’s 680 acre farm in northern California, in the community of Lakeport. Also living on the farm was Patrick Pearmain, 24, of Clearlake.
Records show that Immigration and Customs enforcement had been investigating the farm since December of 2011.
The LAPD, who had been looking for the runaway girl, received a tip that she was being kept in some sort of a metal container, somewhere in Northern California. Detectives eventually discovered that she was in Lake County, and that she was with Balletto. They informed authorities in the area.
Before Lake County Sheriffs could make a raid on the farm, they received a call from the girl. She told them she was fine. They traced the call to a Sacramento motel. When police arrived at the motel, they found her with Pearmain. In his possession he had a bag full of marijuana, prescription drugs, condoms and a pregnancy test. He also had a notebook containing a script the girl was to repeat over the phone.
Wednesday, July 24th, the farm was raided. The expected marijuana plants numbered 1,491. They also found $4,000 in cash, and the “largest and most sophisticated bulk of weapons seized in recent Lake County Sheriff’s Office history.”
The 22 weapons included high powered military grade sniper and assault rifles, automatic assault rifles and pistols. Five children who were living on the property were also taken into custody by Child Protective Services, Lake County News reports.
Balletto and Pearmain used the girl as a sex slave, and forced her to work the farm. Inside the home they found equipment apparently used for acts of sexual bondage.
They frequently kept her in the 4 foot by 2 foot box, when they had no other use for her.
Also arrested was Balletto’s girlfriend, Christa McConnell, 27. She was arrested on weapons and child endangerment charges.
The two men are charged with kidnapping, sexual assault of a minor, drug trafficking, and other related charges.
Joshua Eaton, representing the U.S. Attorney’s office said the investigation is ongoing. They want to be certain there are no other victims on the 680 acre property.
Neighbors were not surprised about the growth of marijuana, but of the amount. “They grow pot everywhere in Lake County,” Bob Clouse, a nearby resident told the New York Daily News. “It’s ridiculous that they get away with it, especially that much.”
The box in which the girl was imprisoned was an old ammunition box. Authorities said the men had cut a hole in it where they placed a hose to clean the girl and the box of human excrement.
A 15-year-old girl is recuperating from being imprisoned in a metal box for an unspecified length of time. Her abductors are in jail.