More than 500 people were arrested in a Californian statewide operation targeting human trafficking, officials announced on Jan. 30.
The three-day sting, known as “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild,” resulted in the rescue of 56 victims, including 11 girls. The operation was led by the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, in coordination with over 80 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, public service providers, and community-based support organizations, Nixle reported.
Of the 510 people arrested, 30 were suspected traffickers, and 178 were alleged “johns.”
At a press conference on Jan. 30, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said: “Teams from throughout California have joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to come down hard on business as usual for the pimps, exploiters and those who believe that it’s acceptable to buy another human being for sexual purposes.”
“The message we hope to send to the traffickers is: don’t do business in Los Angeles County or the state of California because we will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.
Teams from throughout CA have joined the #LASD to come down hard on “business as usual” for the pimps, exploiters & those who believe that it’s acceptable to buy another human being for sexual purposes. 45 adult & 11 juvenile females were rescued in Op Reclaim & Rebuild @LASDHQ pic.twitter.com/STFTT6mrKZ
— Jim McDonnell (@LACoSheriff) January 30, 2018
In one of the task force’s operations described by McDonnell, Milpitas police arrested a man who sexually assaulted a victim of sex trafficking. The man was dressed in full police uniform, with sidearm, when he encountered the victim. It was later found that the suspect was already on felony probation and wanted by police for other similar crimes, ABC7 reported.
The task force’s enforcement efforts also extended to targeting online predators. In one case, McDonnell said a detective in South California posing as a 16-year-old girl online was solicited by a 65-year-old man. He was arrested after traveling 35 miles to have sex with her. The suspect allegedly acknowledged that she was apparently a minor.
The annual enforcement operation is now in its fourth year. Since its inception in Nov. 2015, officials say 221 people have been rescued, and 948 suspects have been arrested in connection with human trafficking.