SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – The Ventura County Sheriff's Office said it made 10 arrests in two-day-long Human Trafficking Operations in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and helped six victims connect with local victim resources.
On Oct. 26 and 27, detectives from the Ventura County Human Trafficking Task Force (VCHTTF) said they identified areas that have had sex trafficking activity in the past and set up sting operations.
VCHTTF said it set up these operations with an emphasis on rescuing victims of sex trafficking, identifying, and arresting their traffickers, and contacting commercial sex customers- commonly referred to as "Johns."
During the operations, detectives said they communicated with multiple victims with the hope of providing them resources to get out of the lifestyle.
The detectives also posed as commercial sex workers on various web sites and communicated with multiple "Johns" who were seeking commercial sex in exchange for money, according to VCHTTF.
Overall, the sheriff's office said that ten arrests were made for various criminal violations including solicitation of prostitution, possession of a firearm, and possession of a controlled substance for sales.
The operations also led the detectives to contact a total of six victims and connect them with local victim resources in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.
The sheriff's office said these operations are done to raise awareness to the commercial sex customers.
"Often the customers are paying for sexual acts to individuals who are sexually exploited and trafficked against their will," said the sheriff's office. "The task force hopes to raise this type of awareness to the community as a whole and detectives believe that these proactive enforcement efforts are crucial in our fight against the human trafficking industry."
Detectives said they encourage victims or those who may know a victim to contact “211” or local law enforcement to be connected with services.
The Ventura County Human Trafficking Task Force said it's 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.
The VCHTTF investigates both labor and sex trafficking occurring in Ventura County, and said that many human trafficking groups operate regionally and transport their victims to different areas to avoid law enforcement detection.
VCHTTF Detectives said they have established close working relationships with nearby task forces in an attempt to stop trafficking from occurring in our counties and continue to strengthen intra-agency bonds through collaboration.
The collaborating agencies were the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Santa Barbara Human Trafficking Task Force, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office.