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Anti-human trafficking task force rescues 65 people


Joint operation with Sheriff’s Dept, LAPD

More than 500 arrests were made in a week-long, statewide anti-human trafficking operation that included personnel from the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, authorities announced this week.

The 10th annual Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, which was conducted from Jan. 21-27, involved more than 95 federal, state and local agencies, including personnel from the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna announced the results of the operation at a Tuesday morning news conference at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles.

Luna said authorities made 539 arrests during the operation, including 40 suspected ``sexual traffickers or exploiters” and 271 suspected “sex buyers.” Also, 54 adults and 11 juveniles were rescued, including a 14-year-old girl, Luna said. It was unclear how many 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. 

“This week-long operation demonstrates that if you engage in human trafficking activities, harm our children, and destroy lives, there will be absolute consequences; and there is no refuge for predators in the state of California,” 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, two of whom are registered sex offenders, were arrested on suspicion of solicitation of prostitution, Luna said.

In San Diego County, a 17-year-old girl was at the Parkway Plaza Mall in El Cajon when she was approached by a man who told her “she should be a model” and gave her a business card that had a phone number on it, Luna said.

The girl called the number, and she was told that she would be “doing date sex with guys at hotels.” The girl told her mother, who contacted authorities, and the suspect was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking of a minor and other offenses, 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.

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.