Trafficking linked to Friday morning standoff
An out-of-state man has been arrested on human trafficking charges, and a young woman has been freed from his control following a standoff Friday morning in Medford, authorities said.
Lemarr Gathian Mitchell, 45, is lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $117,500 bail on felony prostitution charges following a standoff in a Medford neighborhood early Friday morning that required a Special Weapons And Tactics team to get him out of his car, according to jail records and Medford police.
The investigation started at about 8 a.m. Friday morning, according to a release by Medford police, when a California woman reported that her 20-year-old daughter was being held against her will in Medford.
Medford police quickly narrowed their search for the victim to two places: a white Ford Fusion sedan with Texas plates or a house in the area of Ninth and Cottage streets, according to the release. By 8:50 a.m., police found the victim in the passenger seat of a matching vehicle in the 700 block of East Ninth Street.
The victim quickly ran to safety, but Mitchell, who was behind the wheel of the sedan with dark, tinted windows, refused commands to exit. Out of concern that Mitchell was armed, Medford's SWAT team was called to respond.
After negotiations that lasted more than an hour, the SWAT team used a "diversionary device" and extricated Mitchell from the car before taking him into custody without injury.
Medford detectives interviewed the victim and connected her with an advocate from the nonprofit Rebecca Bender Initiative, which helps victims in human trafficking cases build lives outside the sex trade. Investigators believe the victim was forced into prostitution in numerous states, according to the release.
As of Friday afternoon, charges had not yet been filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, records show.
Mitchell is lodged in jail on charges of compelling prostitution, promoting prostitution and trafficking in persons, as well as misdemeanor warrants for failing to appear in court on previous charges of coercion, fourth-degree assault, harassment and strangulation stemming from a 2012 domestic violence arrest, according to jail and court records.
— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.