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New charges in St. Charles County sex trafficking case

ST. CHARLES, Mo. – The St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged a 34-year-old man for allegedly having sex with a teenager in connection with a sex trafficking case.

Mark Sandiha was charged Friday with statutory rape of a person less than 14-years-old, possession of controlled substance except for 35 grams or less of marijuana, and unlawful use of a weapon.

Earlier in the week, St. Charles County prosecutors charged 23-year-old Shawntoi Shurn with sex trafficking of a child in connection to the case.

According to St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar, a special multi-county task force made the bust.

“It started with a very young-looking prostitute who was identified on surveillance video going into and out of a particular hotel,” said Lohmar. “She was approached and she was able to inform the detectives that she was not doing this on her own and there was someone she was working with so that led to Shurn.”

Court documents say on July 8, Shurn took the 13-year-old to a hotel at 5th and Interstate 70 in St. Charles, got her drunk, and met with two men to have sex that they encountered online.

Lohmar said Sandiha and another man were seen on hotel video surveillance following them into the room. Detectives arrested Sandiha at his St. Charles home in the 1100 block of Lindenwood, where he admitted to being in the room with Shurn, the 13-year-old, and another man, but he said they all just watched TV.

In court documents, the 13-year-old victim positively identified Sandiha and told detectives he’s the man she had sex with July 8, for which she was paid $50.

“If you are going to go through these dark alleys and use these back pages and things like that to set up these transactions, you just don’t know who you are dealing with here, so you better be prepared for the consequences,” Lohmar said.