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.
- Costa Mesa Police Department
- Street-Level Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “Prostitution Arrests; Costa Mesa”, Orange County Register, December 22 1989.
- “Police Arrest 40 Men in Prostitution Sting”, Orange County Register, September 3 1994.
- “Costa Mesa’s Street Fight; Prostitutes’ Clothing Seized, New Loitering Law Enforced”, Los Angeles Times, February 18 1996.
- “Incident: Prostitution Sting Operation”, Press Release, Costa Mesa Police Department, June 21 2004.
- “Vice Sting Twice in 3 Months”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, September 17 2005.
- “Police Arrest 10 Men in Prostitution Sting”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, September 17 2006.
- “Police Target Prostitution in Costa Mesa Sting”, Orange County Register, September 17 2006.
- Auto Seizure:
- Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- Child Endangerment:
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Prostitute Alleges Assault by Officer; CRIME: Woman Says a State Policeman in Uniform and a Marked Car Drove Her to a Secluded Spot and Groped Her”, Orange County Register, May 6 1998.
- “Man Rapes, Stabs Woman”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, May 9 2008.
- “Sketch Shows Suspect in Rape, Stabbing”, Orange County Register, May 17 2008.
- “Prostitute Attacked”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, July 30 2008.
- “Rape Suspect Faces Charges”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, October 3 2008.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Police Sweeps Target Harbor Streetwalkers”, Orange County Register, October 26 1989.
- “Prostitution Sweeps Net Dozens of Arrests”, Orange County Register, September 29 1994.
- “Police Seize Clothes to Collar Prostitution”, Los Angeles Times, February 20 1996.
- “Police Seize Clothing of Suspected Prostitutes”, Long Beach Press-Telegram, February 21 1996.
- “Costa Mesa Massage Sting”, Orange County Register, September 4 2004.
- “Police Ask for Massage Parlor Crackdown”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, August 14 2009.
- “Prostitution Ring Alleged at Hotel”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, April 22 2010.
- “Costa Mesa Could Ban More Massage Parlors”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, June 15 2010.
- “Police Suspect ‘Brothel’ Activity at Massage Parlors”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, March 11 2011.
- “Seven O.C. Massage Parlors Are Fronts for Prostitution, Authorities Allege”, Los Angeles Times, March 12 2011.
- “Police Talk Motels, Prostitution, Homelessness at Town-Hall Meeting”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, October 8 2012.
- “‘Problem’ Motels Drain Resources”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, September 21 2013.
- “Planners to Tackle ‘Problem’ Motels”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, October 26 2013.
- “Problem Motels Could Be Charged for Excessive Police Calls”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, November 2 2013.