474 people were arrested and 28 children rescued earlier this week in California as part of a multiday sting operation focused on combating human trafficking. Over 30 law enforcement agencies across the state combined forces over a three-day period to participate in the third annual "Operation Reclaim and Rebuild" operation.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced the arrests on Tuesday. Undercover officers posed as prostitutes on city streets and posted online ads, leading to over 30 people arrested on suspicion of being pimps. In addition to the 28 children that were rescued, officers offered services to 27 adult victims of sex trafficking.
Sheriff McDonnell is responsible for the creation of the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, one of the largest and most comprehensive organizations that focuses on a victim-centered approach to fight human exploitation and trafficking. Since 2007, there have been 22,191 reports of sex trafficking cases inside the United States, as reported by the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Human trafficking has become even more prevalent over the past few decades with the opportunities facilitated by the internet. Traffickers can operate anonymously to track down new victims as well as seek customers. Operation Reclaim and Rebuild utilized specially trained cyber detectives to make the operation as successful as possible.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey has promised that sexual exploitation of children will not be tolerated. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), passed in 2000 and reauthorized through the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) in 2013, was the first comprehensive federal law drafted to prosecute those partaking in human trafficking.
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