Costa Mesa, CA

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Costa Mesa is a city of about 110,000 residents, located near Newport Beach and Huntington Beach in Orange County, California. Local residents and law enforcement have reported problems with chronic prostitution, both occurring indoors and along major thoroughfares (i.e., Harbor Boulevard) for several decades. The city has also documented multiple cases of sex trafficking, and targeted violence against prostituted women. On at least one occasion, an infant child was found in the backseat of a john’s car as he was arrested for solicitation.

In an effort to reduce commercial sex sales in the city, the Coast Mesa Police Department has staged several street-level reverse stings since at least 1989. During these operations, female undercover officers have posed as decoys, and arrested men who offered money and/or sometimes drugs in exchange for sex acts. The names, ages, and hometowns of the arrested sex buyers are released to the media. Arrested johns have at times also had their vehicles towed and impounded.

Other prostitution operations have involved investigating and dismantling massage parlor brothels. In their investigations, the CMPD has used video cameras to monitor and collect footage from police decoys.

Key Partners

  • Costa Mesa Police Department

Key Sources

State California
Type City
Population 109960
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