BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Kern County jury on Monday convicted a man of sex trafficking girls ranging in age from 14 to 17.

In addition to three counts of human trafficking of a minor, jurors found Kajuan Richardson guilty of pimping, unlawful possession of a gun, possession of cannabis for sale and possession of obscene matter of a minor. They also found true the allegation Richardson had a prior human trafficking conviction.

Richardson, 26, faces up to 33 years in prison at his sentencing hearing on Dec. 16.

Kajuan Richardson, photo courtesy Kern County District Attorney’s office

“Human traffickers prey on women and children, create misery and exploit people for money gain,” District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said in a release. “Richardson, who already had been caught and convicted on a previous trafficking case, targeted children to be sexually abused and sold for profit.”

From November 2021 to February, Richardson illegally sold drugs to people throughout Bakersfield, including minors at a local high school, prosecutors said.

“The drug business was among the tactics that Richardson used to lure minors into sex trafficking,” prosecutors said in the release. “Richardson then used internet websites to sell his victims online and in local motels.”

Richardson’s activities came to light after sheriff’s Detective Megan Hylton-Reed was contacted by Kern High School District Officer Ryan Calderon about a student at a local high school, according to the release.

Detectives located conversations on multiple social media apps indicating Richardson was trafficking two girls — ages 14 and 16 — and soliciting another underage girl, according to court documents. The conversations contained details on setting up “dates” with men and how much to charge.

A warrant was obtained for Richardson’s arrest and he was taken into custody Feb. 14 during a traffic stop. Deputies found Xanax pills and concentrated cannabis in the vehicle, and a loaded. 44-caliber handgun and box of ammunition in his home, according to the documents. Richardson, a convicted felon, is barred from owning guns or ammunition.

He was convicted on human trafficking charges in 2017 in Orange County and sentenced to eight years in prison, prosecutors said, and was released on post-release community supervision in October 2020.

Richardson denied involvement with prostitution during an interview with investigators, documents said. He said the girls make their own decisions.

“I know I’m not that, (expletive) happens, I’ll be dead (expletive) honest, them girls do what they want to do, they do what they want to do, I’m not in control, I’m not telling them anything about (inaudible),” Richardson said according to the documents. “They do what they wanna do and they just use me, and that’s what I feel is happening right now because I’m here, I shouldn’t be here, and now I feel manipulated and yeah.”