Nearly 500 people have been arrested in California in a human trafficking sting operation that took place ahead of the Super Bowl, authorities announced on Feb. 15.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva shared the results of the week-long campaign, dubbed “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild,” in a press conference, stating that the statewide operation had “met with positive results.”
Villanueva said the operation was conducted by the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force and more than 80 participating federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and task forces from across the state.
These included officers from Long Beach, San Bernardino County, and San Francisco, among others.
This is the seventh year Operation Reclaim and Rebuild has been conducted, officials said.
The sting operation took place between Feb. 6 and Feb. 12 and 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 said.
“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!” officials said.
Villanueva said that a total of 65 adults and seven minor victims were recovered in the sting operation and are now being cared for by professionals from various Department of Children and Family Services agencies as well as by victim service providers in each county.
Official data show that a total of 82 people were rescued over the week-long operation.
Police arrested 182 males for the charge of solicitation, and 30 suspected traffickers and exploiters were arrested, Villanueva said.
Official data show that police arrested a total of 494 people, of which 192 were in Los Angeles alone. Charges ranged from human trafficking, pimping, pandering, and supervising prostitution, among others.