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Massive human-trafficking crackdown in California – 510 arrested, 56 rescued
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A statewide crackdown on human trafficking in California resulted in more than 500 arrests, while dozens were subsequently rescued. And authorities are keeping the pressure up.
It’s not just third-world countries who are trafficking in human lives anymore.
The Los Angeles County Regional Human Trafficking Task Forces announced the results of their three-day sweep Tuesday, according to local Los Angeles affiliate KABC, Channel 7 Eyewitness News. The effort was called Operation Reclaim and Rebuild.
The name refers to the goal of helping sex industry victims reclaim and rebuild their lives, according to KTLA-5 News, and the 2018 effort marks it’s fourth consecutive year of operation.
In addition to rounding up 510 suspects, authorities rescued 56 human trafficking victims, comprised of 45 adults and 11 girls. The operation took place last week, from Jan. 25 through Jan. 27.
Among the 510 suspects arrested, 30 are suspected traffickers and 178 are alleged “johns.”
The task force is housed by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and is a collaboration of more than 85 federal, state, county and local law enforcement and nonprofit community organizations.
Human traffickers not welcome
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell made the announcement at a press briefing Tuesday.
“The message we hope to send to the traffickers is don’t do business in Los Angeles County or the state of California because we will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.
McDonnell added that the sting was a “three-day assault on one of the most heinous crimes of modern times: the sexual exploitation of another human being for profit.”
Authorities said that human trafficking victims are often young, and are targeted at the very places where they should feel secure.
Officials said the average age of a juvenile human trafficking victim in California is between 12 and 14 years old, and 70 percent of victims come from the foster care system, but did not provide details on the specific victims rescued this week.
Officials are working with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking to rehabilitate the victims.
Since the “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild” raids began in November 2015, more than 221 victims have been rescued, among then 157 children. Another 948 people have been arrested: 274 on suspicion of buying sex, 375 on suspicion of trafficking related offenses, 146 for internet crimes against children and the rest for miscellaneous other crimes, according to McDonnell.
Speaking directly to the human traffickers, the LA County sheriff warned that although this was the fourth annual sweep, it wouldn’t be the last.
“We will never stop coming after you, arresting you, prosecuting you and throwing you in jail,” McDonnell said.
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