In conjunction with Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced details and results from the sixth annual Operation Reclaim and Rebuild enforcement operation.
The operation was conducted from Jan. 26 through Feb. 1 by the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force and 70 participating federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The statewide effort combatted human trafficking at multiple physical locations and on the internet.
Villanueva held a press conference on the operation on Feb. 4 at the Hall of Justice in Downtown Los Angeles. He was joined by representatives from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Highway Patrol, California Department of Justice, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking and many other agencies.
Operation Reclaim and Rebuild resulted in 76 adults and 11 minors who were victims of trafficking being rescued, 266 men being arrested for solicitation and 27 other suspects being arrested for alleged trafficking. A total of 518 arrests were made statewide.
The operation focused on rescuing victims of sexual slavery and human trafficking, providing victims with services, identifying and arresting captors, seeking prosecutions and disrupting the demand for vulnerable victims by targeting customers.
Investigators focused enforcement operations wherever human trafficking occurs. The operation included conducting prostitution demand operations on city streets and investigating trafficking that occurs on the internet. Specially-trained cyber detectives posed as vulnerable teenagers and interacted with suspects on social media.
Victims encountered during enforcement efforts were cared for by personnel from department of children and family services agencies and victim service providers in each county. In Los Angeles County, CAST, Saving Innocence, Zoe International and Journey Out coordinated the emergency services response for victim care.
“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and our partners stand with each victim of this heinous crime. You are the focus of this endeavor. We are here for you. We are here to help you reclaim your freedom from the binds of sex trafficking and to provide you the support and tools to rebuild your lives,” Villanueva said. “To the traffickers and solicitors, we will not tolerate the enslavement and trafficking of others in any form. We will seek you out and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. Purchasing commercial sex is illegal and buying sex adds to the exploitation of those involved.”
“As a task force, we are continuing to find cutting-edge approaches to serving survivors that prioritizes their rights, secures their safety and provides access to services, while holding traffickers accountable,” said CAST CEO and Executive Director Kay Buck. “I want to thank all of the amazing community leaders that are a part of the task force for being stewards of our shared community values and our evolving national model.”
To report human trafficking call 911. For information about the task force, visit lahumantrafficking.com.
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