Closing out the end of January with their annual Operation Reclaim and Rebuild on Jan 21-27, over 95 federal, state, and local agencies as the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force took point. In a press conference on January 30th, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna announced the totals of the sting. 539 arrests were made, including 40 people who were alleged to be sex trafficking or exploiting people, as well as 271 people looking to buy sexual services from these victims.
While getting these creeps off the streets is a huge accomplishment, getting 54 adults and 11 kids, including a 14-year-old, their freedom is even better. While they failed to release location-by-location numbers, a sex-buying sting along a stretch of Holt Avenue in Pomona was incredibly successful. Twelve males were arrested, including two registered sex offenders, all under the suspicion of soliciting prostitution.
Joining Luna was Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón. According to Gascón, these crimes often go unpunished even after an arrest. Prosecuting sex traffickers and their buyers is often impossible as victims decline to testify. Too afraid for their safety (and rightfully so), they rather stay hidden and maintain whatever safety they can. Instead, Gascón wants his office to do everything they can to ensure victims know they are protected.
As Luna also noted that this operation has now been done over 10 Januarys in a row for Human Trafficking Awareness Month. However, he insists their law officers are prosecuting cases in LA and across California year-round.
From looking at the statistics, they aren’t taking the rest of the year as seriously as they do these early-year sting missions. Instead, they seem to continuously let offenders go, and give their victims little to no hope of lasting change. It seems that no matter where they put them, many find themselves right back there in one form or another.
If California wants to make sure they stop the reoffending, they can do what other countries have done and simply institutionalize the problems. These rapists, molesters, and pedophiles belong in jail. Keep them there and make cheap labor of them. From stamping license plates to making uniforms for the military, they can be used on the cheap for these crimes. By just ticketing and releasing them (like California is notorious for), they only perpetuate the cycle of sex traffickers in the public.
While the disturbing opponents of these stings claim they can be “cured” or “fixed” with medication and therapy, the evidence says otherwise. It might not be “fair” to lock these weak “men” in cells with hardened criminals, but they aren’t “fair” with the crimes they chose to commit.
According to Luna, “Human trafficking and child exploitation are devastating crimes that prey on some of the most vulnerable members of our community. This week-long operation demonstrates that if you engage in human trafficking activities, harm our children, and destroy lives, there will be absolute consequences, and there is no refuge for predators in the state of California.” Hopefully, this means they’ll be keeping them locked up this time.
During a January 31st press conference, State Attorney General Rob Bonta offered, “Our office is committed to working every day and dedicating every month of the year to providing human trafficking victims services and apprehending and arresting their traffickers. Through Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, we’re fighting to hold perpetrators accountable and help survivors get a fresh start. I’m thankful to all our partners who work collaboratively with the SDHTTF and HT-SPAT and I’m proud of our office’s work to help uplift vulnerable Californians. When we work together, we get results.”