A 20-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking Wednesday for trying to pimp out a teen girl on Backpage.com, according to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.
Undercover cops responded to an online escort ad as part of a Super Bowl-related human trafficking sting. Sacramento resident Tekera “Taco” Scott allegedly responded with instructions to meet at a Milpitas motel.
When detectives showed up, they found Scott with two other females and a loaded firearm. One of them, a 17-year-old from out of town, was the girl in the ad, officials said.
The teen girl was being commercially and sexually exploited, according to police, who notified the county’s Department of Family and Children Services.
“The investigators determined that the oldest of the females found with the minor was sexually exploiting her for money by placing ads for her to perform sex acts in exchange for money,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. James Jensen said.
Scott was booked into San Jose’s Main Jail on suspicion of human trafficking of a minor and pandering.
Police ask anyone with information on Scott to contact the Human Trafficking Task Force at 408.918.4960 or [email protected].
Wednesday’s sting was conducted with help from the District Attorney’s Office, Milpitas police and the FBI as part of a regional prostitution crackdown in response to the Super Bowl 50, which takes place this weekend at Santa Clara's Levi's Stadium.
A day earlier, a human trafficking task force conducted a sting operation that resulted in Denver Broncos practice player Ryan Murphy being sent home, even though he wasn’t arrested or charged. His brother, however, was cited.
In the past month, the Sheriff’s Office has conducted eight prostitution stings and cited and released more than 10 people as part of its anti-human trafficking efforts.
For the past several years, there’s been a greater focus on fighting prostitution and trafficking during Super Bowl week. Santa Clara County has spent years gearing up for the game, posting up billboards and designating January “Human Trafficking Awareness Month.”
There’s some debate over whether trafficking actually increases in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. Regardless, local authorities welcome the heightened attention, which boosts public funding and raises awareness about an issue they have to tackle year in and year out.
Attorneys Lynette Parker and Ruth Silver Taube—both members of the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking—wrote in a Mercury News op-ed that they are both “chagrined and grateful” for stories about the Super Bowl causing a surge in human trafficking.
“Grateful because they shine a light on what could indeed be an uptick in the horrendous practice of forcing children or young women into sex trafficking—one of many forms of trafficking that we've spent years combating,” they wrote.“But chagrined, too, because the best available law enforcement data show that, while events such as the Super Bowl might indeed mean more trafficking, in all likelihood there won't be a tsunami of new victims; it won't be just child sex laborers involved; and the problem won't go away once the Super Bowl is over.”
Some advocates, however, worry about sex workers being targeted. Local authorities allocated about $1 million in the past year for victim case management and legal help. In addition, social workers help police in each sting operation to connect victims with resources to regain their independence.
The FBI opened a Human Trafficking Operation Center on Monday to kick off the start of Super Bowl week. A pilot run last October resulted in six children being rescued, the agency reported.
The Bay Area has long been a hotbed for labor and sex trafficking, according to law enforcement officials, it’s a global destination with international shipping ports and three major airports.