Santa Clara County Law Enforcement Recovers Victims and Arrests Sex Traffickers at Local Hotels

A multi-agency task force has wrapped up a major operation to target human traffickers who were exploiting young women sex workers at several South Bay hotels, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office last week..

Investigators set up stings at local hotels and arrested traffickers when they dropped off the women. Two of those involved were in possession of guns and one trafficker brought his 2-year-old baby.

The women were released after being provided services while six traffickers were arrested and face felony charges, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Vanier, of the Law Enforcement Investigating Human Trafficking Taskforce told the Los Gatan.

“Operations like this allow us to bring awareness that there are people who are being sexually exploited, there are people who are being exploited for their labor,” he said. “I don’t think there is a single community that is not impacted by human trafficking.”

The local enforcement, conducted July 19-30, was part of a national operation led by the FBI known as “Operation Cross Country.”

In all, “Operation Cross Country” – the local part of a national effort - recovered 23 women, several of them teens, working for sex traffickers. The women were released after being provided a host of services. Six traffickers were arrested and now face felony charges. If convicted, they face substantial state prison sentences.

The women were provided specialized services including counseling, immediate and long-term medical care, housing assistance, and services related to economic sustainability.

District Attorney Jeff Rosen said: “Paying for sex is not a victimless crime. These young women are groomed, assaulted, and exploited. If you spend money on these services, you are part of the problem. If you are a trafficker, you are the problem - and you are going to prison.”

The enforcement effort, initiated by the Innocence Lost FBI National Initiative, aims to reduce sexual exploitation of juveniles by recovering trafficking victims in the annual law enforcement operation.

From July 19 to July 30, the DA’s Human Trafficking Taskforce, in coordination with the San Jose Police Department and multiple federal and local law enforcement and community partners, conducted four recovery operations throughout Santa Clara County.

Rosen expressed his appreciation to those participating hotels, whom he did not name to protect future recovery operations. In addition to these operations, the taskforce and the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking also conducts regular outreach and training with hotel personnel to identify and report suspected human trafficking.

The taskforce also supported the Morgan Hill Police Department in conducting six inspections on massage parlors suspected of commercial sex activity, mostly along Monterey Road. All six locations had code enforcement violations and one was ordered closed for unsafe working conditions.

Rosen thanked all participating agencies, including the San Jose Human Trafficking Taskforce, the Milpitas, Morgan Hill,and Santa Clara police departments, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of State, the FBI, Community Solutions and the local YWCA.

Drew Penner contributed to this report.

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