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3 men arrested for alleged attempted trafficking of McGregor teens

'We are going to make these scumbags accountable for what they did to these young girls.' — Sheriff Parnell McNamara
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Posted at 11:52 AM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 15:09:18-04

WACO, Texas — Three men have now been arrested in connection with the disappearance and attempted trafficking of two McGregor teens.

“We are going to make these scumbags accountable for what they did to these young girls,” McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said Wednesday in a release. “There will be more charges and more arrests to come. We are not going to let up.”

The teens were recovered in Georgetown earlier this month after an Amber Alert was issued and authorities were tipped to a message for “help” from one of the two girls' Snapchat stories.

Arrested Monday and charged with harboring a runaway child were:

  • Justin Anthony Phillips, 33
  • Ricardo Chavez Arriaga, 24

Phillips and Arriaga were arrested at their residences and booked into McLennan County Jail.

Arrested Tuesday and charged with human trafficking was:

  • James Robert Vanhouten, 30

Vanhouten was originally arrested for harboring a runaway child.

On Tuesday, Vanhouten was re-arrested at his Georgetown residence after a 15-20 minute standoff, according to a McLennan County Sheriff’s Office news release.

Vanhouten was booked into the Williamson County Jail on the new trafficking charge, a 1st-degree felony, and “will be transported to the McLennan County Jail within the next few days,” the release said.

“This investigation is not completed and it is expected there will be additional arrest warrants issued in the future,” the release continued.

Previously, McNamara said the two 14-year-old girls were initially runaways before they got into a more dangerous situation and were taken to five different homes.

McGregor police received a runaway report about the two on June 28. The Amber Alert was issued on July 4. At that time, McGregor police asked for the help of the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office’s Human Trafficking Unit. On July 5, the two girls were recovered from a Georgetown residence.