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Human trafficking in the of California leads to 339 arrests.

Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force Announces Arrests and Rescues by California Law Enforcement During Operation Reclaim and Rebuild

In conjunction with Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Assistant Sheriff Maria Gutierrez announced details and results from the fifth annual Operation Reclaim and Rebuild enforcement operation, conducted by the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force and more than 90 participating federal state and local law enforcement agencies, and task forces from across California.

The three-day, statewide effort aimed at combatting human trafficking took place between Thursday, January 24, and Saturday, January 29, 2019, and was conducted in various mediums and met with positive results.

The press conference was held Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at the iconic Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles. Assistant Sheriff Maria Gutierrez was joined by executives and representatives from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Highway Patrol, the office of California Senator Ling Ling Chang, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), Contra Costa County Human Trafficking Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, Journey Out, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles County Probation Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles School Police Department, San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Department, Saving Innocence, the office of United States Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the United States Attorney’s Office.

Operation Reclaim and Rebuild focused on rescuing victims of sexual slavery and human trafficking, providing victims with much-needed services, identifying and arresting their captors, seeking successful prosecutions, and disrupting the demand for vulnerable victims by targeting their customers. Police agencies and other trafficking task forces throughout our state joined in the enforcement operation to send the clear message that California law enforcement shares a unified mandate: Human trafficking must not be tolerated in our state!

In preparation for the event, an operational planning meeting took place in Los Angeles, with 210 federal, state and municipal law enforcement detectives from all over California in attendance. Investigators focused enforcement operations wherever the trafficking of human beings took place, from confronting the reality of sidewalk prostitution by conducting demand operations, to challenging the virtual reality of the cyber world where traffickers believe they can operate anonymously using the internet.

The internet furnishes a vast variety of opportunities for traffickers, but with the experience of specially-trained cyber detectives who posed as vulnerable teenagers and interacted with suspects on social media, traffickers and customers who were anxious to exploit found their plans foiled. Over the course of three days, BOTs exchanged thousands of text with 75 men seeking to purchase sex and captured their phone numbers.

Victims encountered during enforcement efforts were cared for by personnel from various Department of Children and Family Services Agencies and victim service providers in each county. In Los Angeles County, CAST and Saving Innocence coordinated the emergency services response for victim care and collaborated with similar, non-governmental victim service organizations throughout the state.

Operation Reclaim and Rebuild was widely successful in its endeavor with 34 adult and 14 minor victims being recovered; 156 males arrested for the charge of Solicitation; and 36 suspected traffickers and exploiters were arrested. In total, 339 arrests were made.

As Assistant Sheriff Gutierrez relayed the mission, efforts and results of Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, she gave a firm direction to the traffickers and solicitors, “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. To the Johns: Sex with a minor is nothing short of child molestation and we aim to treat it as such. Buying sex adds to the exploitation of those involved.”

In addressing the victims, she stated, “YOU are the focus of this endeavor. The collective goal among the almost 100-strong partnerships in this operation is to reclaim your freedom from the binds of sex trafficking, and to help you rebuild your lives with the necessary tools and support.”

Captain Kent Wegener, who oversaw the coordinated effort, defined the undertaking, “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild is a state-wide operation which displays the mutual commitment of California law enforcement, social service agencies, and victim service providers in the fight to end sex trafficking. The L.A. Regional Human Trafficking Task Force is an example of how individual entities can be far more effective, when they join together in a shared mission. Today, 48 individuals have been removed from their traffickers and connected with the services necessary to rebuild their lives, free from exploitation.”

“Through Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, we in law enforcement are working together to stop the human sex trafficking of minors in our community,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. “We must help the young victims who are lured into sex trafficking and prosecute both the people who pay for sex with children and the traffickers who benefit financially from these horrendous crimes.”

“Our office is proud to contribute to the statewide efforts of Operation Reclaim and Rebuild to combat the scourge of human trafficking,” said Attorney General Becerra. “This three-day operation illustrates how law enforcement agencies can work together to support survivors and zero in on criminals who have no qualms exploiting human life.”

Kay Buck, CEO of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, the lead non-profit partner of the L.A. Regional Taskforce, said, “The taskforce is built upon multi-disciplinary private and public partnerships that center around the experience of survivors. Building safety and trust with survivors -a critical part of healing from trauma- is a key indicator of our success. When survivors feel respected and supported, they are more likely to engage in trauma-informed services, and that important first step begins when they are introduced to the taskforce.”

The following agencies and task forces participated:

L.A. Regional Human Trafficking Task Force Operation Reclaim & Rebuild 2019 Participants

Human Trafficking Task Forces Contra Costa County Human Trafficking Task Force Antioch Police Department Concord Police Department Contra Costa Sheriff's Office Pittsburg Police Department Walnut Creek Police Department Contra Costa Police Department Contra Costa County Probation Department Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office FBI Safe Streets (Contra Costa County)

Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation California Highway Patrol Federal Bureau of Investigations Homeland Security Investigations LA County District Attorney's Office LA County Probation Department LA County Sheriff's Department Los Angeles Police Department Los Angeles School Police Department United States Attorney's Office

Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force Anaheim Police Department California Highway Patrol Irvine Police Department Newport Police Department Orange County District Attorney's Office Orange County Sheriff's Department Santa Ana Police Department

Placer County SIU Task Force Alcohol Beverage Control Auburn Police Department California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation California Department of Justice California National Guard Lincoln Police Department Placer County Probation Placer County Sheriff's Department Rocklin Police Department Roseville Police Department

Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force Federal Bureau of Investigations Hemet Police Department Homeland Security Investigations Riverside County District Attorney's Office Riverside Police Department Riverside County Sheriff's Department Riverside County Probation Department

Santa Barbara Human Trafficking Task Force Lompoc Police Department Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department Santa Barbara Police Department Santa Maria Police Department

San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department San Bernardino County Bureau of Investigations San Bernardino Police Department Ontario Police Department California State Parole Homeland Security Investigations Federal Bureau of Investigations San Bernardino County Probation San Bernardino City Unified School Police

San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force California Department of Justice - Attorney General's Office California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation California Highway Patrol Escondido Police Department Federal Bureau of Investigations National City Police Department San Diego City Attorney's Office San Diego County District Attorney's Office San Diego County Probation Department San Diego County Sheriff's Department San Diego Police Department United States Attorney's Office - Southern District of California

Tulare County Human Trafficking Task Force Tulare County Sheriff's Department Tulare County District Attorney's Office Visalia Police Department Tulare Police Department Porterville Police Department

Agencies Central Marin Police Authority El Segundo Police Department Fresno Police Department Hawthorne Police Department Hemet Police Department - Crime Suppression Unit** Huntington Beach Police Department Long Beach Police Department Marin County Sheriff's Office Merced Police Department Novato Police Department Sacramento Police Department/FBI Task Force Sacramento Sheriff's Department San Jose Police Department San Rafael Police Department Santa Clara Sheriff's Office Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office Stanislaus County Sheriffs Stanislaus County Probation Department Stanislaus County District Attorney Turlock Police Department **Agency participated with task force and independently

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