Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva coordinated a state-wide law enforcement effort annual multi-agency statewide initiative that focuses on rescuing victims of sexual slavery and human trafficking. The annual campaign also works to identify and arrest their captors, and disrupt demand for victims. The operation occurred the week before the Super Bowl, conducted at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.
“All across the state, law enforcement agencies joined us to send a message to pimps, exploiters and buyers that it is unacceptable to buy another human being for sexual purposes,” Villanueva said.
In a Contra Costa County suburb, authorities captured a man allegedly running a nationwide prostitution ring. A search with a warrant discovered two handguns, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun, body armor and 100 rounds of ammunition, according to the sheriff.
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco described how his department uncovered people involved in the shadowy business. He said task force officers placed decoy advertisements on popular classified advertisement websites commonly used for the solicitation of prostitution. The officers then responded to people who replied to their ads. Once an agreement for prostitution was reached any customers who arrived at the agreed-upon meeting place, were arrested.
Other task force officers responded to escort advertisements that were posted online in the area and negotiated for acts of prostitution. Females who showed up to meet the undercover officers were interviewed. Women whom officers determined were not victims of human trafficking were arrested.
“Task force officers also made contact with two adult females believed to be victims of sex trafficking,” Sheriff Bianco said in a statement. “Initial investigations led the task force to believe these subjects were being forced to engage in acts of prostitution against their will.” He said their identities would not be released but three dozen men and women arrested for solicitation of prostitution were identified by name, age and city of residence.
Two people were arrested by deputies and charged with additional crimes.
Austin Spargo, 25, of Murrieta was also charged with carrying a loaded firearm; and Juan Lopez, 25, of Perris was charged with possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia.
Advocacy group Saving Innocence CEO Alan Smyth confirmed big sporting events “absolutely garner an increase in trafficking of both adults and minors.”
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