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Over 400 arrested in California human trafficking investigation February 16, 2022


During a press conference on Tuesday, February 15, 2022 at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles, Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced details and results from the seventh annual Operation Reclaim and Rebuild enforcement operation, 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 California. The week-long, statewide effort aimed at combatting human trafficking took place between Sunday, February 6, and Saturday, February 12, 2022, and was conducted in various mediums and met with positive results.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva was joined by executives and representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Police Department, San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Office, Santa Ana Police Department, United States Attorney’s Office, Saving Innocence, Zoe International and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

Operation Reclaim and Rebuild 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 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!

In preparation for the event, an operational planning meeting took place in Los Angeles, with over 200 federal, state and municipal law enforcement detectives from all over California in attendance. Investigators focused enforcement operations wherever the trafficking of human beings took place, from confronting the reality of sidewalk prostitution by conducting demand operations, to challenging the virtual reality of the cyber world where traffickers believe they can operate anonymously using the internet.

The internet furnishes a vast variety of opportunities for traffickers, but with the experience of specially-trained cyber detectives who posed as vulnerable teenagers and interacted with suspects on social media, traffickers and customers who were anxious to exploit found their plans foiled.

Victims encountered during enforcement efforts were cared for by personnel from various Department of Children and Family Services Agencies and victim service providers in each county. In Los Angeles County, South Los Angeles Anti-Trafficking Committee, comprised of Saving Innocence, Zoe International, Journey Out and many other local service providers coordinated the emergency services response for victim care and collaborated with similar, non-governmental victim service organizations throughout the state.

Operation Reclaim and Rebuild was widely successful in its endeavor with 65 adult and 7 minor victims being recovered; 182 males arrested for the charge of Solicitation; and 30 suspected traffickers and exploiters were arrested. In total, 413 arrests were made.

Sheriff Villanueva relayed the mission, efforts and results of Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, he gave a firm direction to the Victims, he reiterated, “The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and our partners stand with each victim of this heinous crime. You are the focus of this endeavor. We are here for you. We are here to help you reclaim your freedom from the binds of sex trafficking, and to provide you the support and tools to rebuildyour lives.”

To the traffickers and solicitors: “We will not tolerate the enslavement and trafficking of others in any form. We will seek you out and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.

To the Johns: “Purchasing commercial sex is illegal and buying sex adds to the exploitation of those involved.”

The Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, which oversaw the coordinated effort, defined the undertaking, “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild is a state-wide operation which displays the mutual commitment of California law enforcement, social service agencies, and victim service providers in the fight to end sex trafficking. The L.A. Regional Human Trafficking Task Force is an example of how individual entities can be far more effective, when they join together in a shared mission. Today, 7 children have been rescued from their exploiters and 65 women have been connected with the services necessary to rebuild their lives, free from exploitation.”

The Executive Director, Alan Smyth from “Saving Innocence” challenged the media by stating “Human Trafficking happens all year long, every day. The big sporting event just left town but you know what? We haven’t left town and we are going to be here every single day in combating this incredible, brutal crime that has been perpetrated on our most vulnerable. So the biggest mistake we can make would be turning off our cameras and not writing anymore articles because somehow we think human trafficking is gone because the Super Bowl is not here anymore. I want to stand before you and tell you, it has not gone away.”

“From top to bottom, California is committed to the fight against human trafficking,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “We’re working all across the state to hold accountable those who use force, fraud, or coercion to exploit people for labor or sex, and provide services to those they victimize. Our teams — whether in San Diego, Fresno, or Sacramento — are on the ground day-in and day-out to secure justice, and protect and help heal those who are abused and exploited. We’re proud to continue to support our partners through Operation Reclaim and Rebuild. Together, we’re helping build safer communities for all.”

The following agencies and task forces participated:

L.A. Regional Human Trafficking Task Force

Operation Reclaim & Rebuild

2022 Participants

Human Trafficking Task Forces

Contra Costa County Human Trafficking Task Force

Concord Police Department

Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office

Contra Costa County Probation Department

Contra Costa County, Office of the Sheriff

El Cerrito Police Department

FBI Safe Streets (Contra Costa County)

Homeland Security Investigations

Lafayette Police Department

Martinez Police Department

Pittsburg Police Department

Richmond Police Department

San Pablo Police Department

San Ramon Police Department

Walnut Creek Police Department

Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force

California Attorney General

California Highway Patrol

Federal Bureau of Investigations

Homeland Security Investigations

Inglewood Police Department

LA County District Attorney’s Office

LA County Probation Department

LA County Sheriff’s Department

Los Angeles Airport Police

United States Attorney’s Office

Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force

Anaheim Police Department

California Highway Patrol

Irvine Police Department

Orange County District Attorney’s Office

Orange County Sheriff’s Department

Santa Ana Police Department

Placer Special Operation Unit

Lincoln Police Department

Placer County Sheriff’s Office

Rocklin Police Department

Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force

Homeland Security Investigations

Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

Riverside Police Department

San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force

California Highway Patrol

California State Parole

Homeland Security Investigations

San Bernardino County Probation Department

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department

San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force

California Department of Justice – Attorney General’s Office

California Highway Patrol

Federal Bureau of Investigations

Homeland Security Investigations

National City Police Department

San Diego City Attorney’s Office

San Diego County District Attorney’s Office

San Diego County Probation Department

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

San Diego Police Department

United States Attorney’s Office

San Luis Obispo County Human Trafficking Task Force

California Department of Justice

California Highway Patrol – Coastal Division

Federal Bureau of Investigations

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office

San Luis Obispo County Probation Department

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office

San Luis Obispo Police Department

Santa Barbara County Human Trafficking Task Force

Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department

Santa Barbara Police Department

Santa Maria Police Department

Tulare County Human Trafficking Task Force

California Department of Justice, Fresno SPAT Unit

Tulare County District Attorney’s Office

Tulare County Sheriff’s Department

Tulare Police Department

Visalia Police Department

Ventura County Human Trafficking Task Force

California State University Channel Islands

Homeland Security Investigations

Simi Valley Police Department

Ventura County District Attorney’s Office

Ventura County Sheriff’s Office


Brentwood Police Department**

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Parole)

Chula Vista Police Department

Costa Mesa Police Department

Fresno Police Department

Huntington Beach Police Department

Laguna Beach Police Department

Long Beach Police Department

Merced Police Department

Modesto Police Department

Napa County Sheriff’s Department

Oakdale Police Department

Pittsburg Police Department**

Pomona Police Department

Sacramento Police Department

San Francisco Police Department

Santa Ana Police Department**

Solano County Sheriff’s Department

Stanislaus County Probation Department

Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department

Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office

Suisun City Police Department

Turlock Police Department

Vacaville Police Department

Vallejo Police Department

**Agency participated with task force and independently

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