Large Human Trafficking Network Uncovered, 539 Taken into Custody

( – More than 500 people were arrested following a massive crackdown on a human trafficking network by law enforcement in California.

The arrests, which were made at the end of January, coincided with the end of Human Trafficking Awareness Month and were conducted as part of an annual initiative in the state called “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild.” More than 95 law enforcement agencies from the federal, state, and local levels participated in the operation, which included the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Law enforcement managed to rescue several victims of prostitution and human trafficking, a group made up of 54 adults and 11 minors/juveniles, which also included a 14-year-old girl.

Roughly 40 of the suspects arrested were considered “sexual traffickers or exploiters,” while 271 of the people who were taken into custody were allegedly “buyers.”

“There is no refuge for predators in the state of California,” Sheriff Robert Luna said at a press conference announcing the success of the operation. He warned perpetrators that those caught harming children and engaging in human trafficking will face “absolute consequences.”

Sheriff Luna also said that many of the victims they rescued are treated extremely poorly and are often subject to both physical and sexual abuse and all manner of “horrible things.”

Also part of the operation were a number of undercover operatives who conducted an operation on Holt Avenue in Pomona, a part of the sprawling Los Angeles County. The operation resulted in the arrest of 12 men, two of whom were registered sex offenders. In San Diego County, officers arrested a man on suspicion of engaging in human trafficking after he approached a 17-year-old girl in El Cajon, saying that she could be a model and handing her a business card. When she called the number, the girl was told that she would need to participate in “date sex” with men in hotels. The girl informed her mother, who in turn contacted the police.

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