🚨 500 Arrests Made in Human Trafficking Sting
More than 500 arrests were made and dozens were rescued in a week-long, statewide anti-human trafficking operation.
The 10th annual Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, which was conducted last week, involved more than 95 federal, state and local agencies, including personnel from the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force.
During a press conference Tuesday morning, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said authorities made 539 arrests, including 40 suspected "sexual traffickers or exploiters'' and 271 suspected "sex buyers.'' Also, 54 adults and 11 children were rescued, including a 14-year-old girl, Luna said.
It was unclear how many of those arrests were made in Los Angeles County.
"Human trafficking and child exploitation are devastating crimes that prey on some of the most vulnerable members of our community,'' Luna said.
In one Los Angeles County operation, task force personnel conducted an undercover "sex buyer'' operation on a stretch of Holt Avenue in Pomona, Luna said. Twelve males, including two registered sex offenders, were arrested on suspicion of solicitation of prostitution, Luna said.
Luna was joined at the news conference by Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, and representatives from the LAPD, the federal Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.
Eyewitness News asked Gascón about enhanced penalties and he noted that one of the challenges his office faces when it comes to prosecuting sex traffickers and sex buyers is that victims sometimes are too afraid to testify in fear of their safety.
Gascón said the office works to ensure victims are always safe and protected.
Luna noted that although the annual statewide operation is conducted each January, which is Human trafficking Awareness Month, law enforcement personnel work year-round to target human traffickers.