On January 22-23, 2023, Detectives from the Ventura County Human Trafficking Task Force (VCHTTF) participated in Human Trafficking Operations throughout Ventura County as part of Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, a statewide enforcement on human trafficking. Detectives identified areas in Ventura County including motels and massage parlors that have had sex trafficking activity in the past and set up several enforcement operations.
The Ventura County Human Trafficking Task Force is comprised of two full time Sheriff’s Detectives supported by representative detectives from each law enforcement agency in Ventura County and several victim service providers. During this operation, Detectives assigned to the Santa Barbara Human Trafficking Task Force provided expertise and assistance in the criminal investigations and site inspections. Both task forces investigate both labor and sex trafficking occurring in the Tri-County region consisting of Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.
The goal during these operations was to rescue victims of sexual exploitation, provide social services to potential human trafficking victims in the tri-county area, arrest the human traffickers or pimps, and arrest the “Johns” who are the customers to commercial sex victims.
On January 22nd, the VCHTTF conducted motel operations at two different locations. During these operations, the task force was able to provide victims who were identified as commercial sex workers, services through our victim advocates. The task force arrested one trafficker, a known Los Angeles gang member, who arrived with one of the victims, for pimping, and made multiple arrests of “Johns” who arrived to purchase and participate in sex services.
On January 23rd, the VCHTTF partnered with code compliance, local and federal law enforcement agencies and victim advocates to conduct compliance checks on 28 different massage parlors within our county that have been identified as possibly providing commercial sex services through online investigation. During this operation, seven massage parlors within the county were issued notice of violations by code compliance for various violations.
An Illicit Massage Business (IMB) is a place of business that allows commercial sex to occur. The VCHTTF is committed to identifying these businesses in our communities and eliminating profiteering from sex or labor trafficking. Often, the employees are victims of labor trafficking and sex trafficking. During this operation, the task force was able to provide resources to approximately 28 victims that were working at the IMB’s.
The task force hopes to raise awareness about human trafficking in the community as a whole. Detectives believe that these proactive enforcement efforts are crucial in our fight against the human trafficking occurring in businesses. If you suspect a business is involved in sex or labor trafficking, you are encouraged to report them to local law enforcement for follow up investigation.
Detectives encourage you to contact “211” or local law enforcement to be connected with services, if you believe you are a victim or know a victim of human trafficking.
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