Costa Mesa, CA

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Costa Mesa is a city of about 111,000 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 sex buyer’s car as he was arrested for soliciting prostitution.

In an effort to reduce commercial sex in the city, the Coast Mesa Police Department has staged multiple 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 sex buyers 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

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Auto Seizure:


Sex Trafficking in the Area:

Child Endangerment:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State California
Type City
Population 110750
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