Man arrested on gun charges in Desert Star Motel raid pleads not guilty

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man arrested during last month’s raid by local and federal authorities on the Desert Star Motel pleaded not guilty Tuesday to gun charges.

Curtis Moore, 43, is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition by a person prohibited from possessing a firearm, according to court records. He’s next due in Kern County Superior Court March 17.

Moore and two others were taken into custody Jan. 22 after a years-long investigation into alleged prostitution and human trafficking at the motel culminated with officers serving a search warrant on the property. Jatinbhai Bhakta, 29, the Union Avenue motel’s owner, and Roy Drees, 45, its general manager, have each pleaded not guilty in federal court to use of facilities of interstate commerce in aid of a racketeering enterprise.

It’s alleged Bhakta allowed and profited from prostitution occurring on his property, charging inflated rates to pimps who then placed women in the motel’s rooms, where they would stay for a day or two, or longer, before being replaced. Some of those working as prostitutes were underage, authorities said.

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