A teenager from Lake County was held for days at a time in a 4’x2’x2′ toolbox, used in a large-scale marijuana operation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday.
Air holes were drilled into the toolbox, so the 15-year-old girl could breathe, according to a news release from federal investigators.
Two savages, Ryan Balletto and Patrick Pearmain, are accused of running the drug ring and holding the runaway teen against her will.
They face counts of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute more than 1,000 plants of marijuana, and using a minor in a drug operation.
Balletto and Pearmain kept the girl for weeks at a site owned by Balletto in Lake County, according to a criminal complaint. The pair used the teen to process pot plants, and they savagely raped her, investigators said.
Locals were very surprised by the toolbox allegations.
“Pot’s one thing, but sexual abuse is very bad,” said Jimmy Martinez, a resident who lives near Clear Lake. “That’s absolutely wrong.”
A call from the sheriff’s department in Los Angeles turned the Lake County pot investigation into a search for the missing teen. She has since been found and is now safe, but investigators say there may be additional victims.
Federal officials handed down the charges to Balletto and Pearmain after a months-long investigation.
Officials from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, ICE Homeland Security and the Contraband Smuggling Group found about 1,300 pot plants, and a number of firearms — most of which were loaded — in connection with the case, at the grow site.