Escondido is a city of approximately 151,000 residents, located just north of San Diego in California. In the 2000s, San Diego police had cracked down on prostitution and sex trafficking, leading some of those involved to relocate their operations to nearby suburbs. In late 2011, city officials and the EPD coordinated efforts to impose new, stringent regulations on city massage parlors to address reports of sex trafficking and prostitution activity by local businesses.
To address the array of problems associated with local prostitution and sex trafficking, the Escondido Police Department began conducting periodic street-level reverse stings in 2008. As a warning to other actual and potential sex buyers, the names and identities of those arrested have been released to the media. In September 2015, for example, five johns were arrested and had their identities publicized after soliciting a female police decoy in the city center area.
Web based reverse stings have also been conducted locally, and Escondido police have also collaborated on regional demand reduction efforts. For example, in March 2019, the Escondido Police Department partnered with multiple agencies to conduct an operation targeting individuals seeking prostitution via the internet. Seven men responded to online ads and made arrangements over the internet to trade money for sex acts. These men went to an agreed location where they were contacted and arrested by law enforcement officers for the violation of California Penal Code 647(b)(1) – soliciting or agreeing to participate in any act of prostitution. Participating agencies included the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force, San Diego Sheriff’s Department, National City Police Department, San Diego County Probation, San Diego Police Department, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, California Department of Justice, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
In April, 2021 a four day reverse sting throughout San Diego County yielded the arrest of 144 men on allegations of trying to hire undercover officers posing as prostituted persons. The operation targeted people searching for options on social media pages for the region. The sheriff’s department and officers from the Chula Vista, Escondido and San Diego police departments collaborated on “Operation Century Week” in partnership with the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force (which includes the state Department of Justice, FBI and other agencies).
- Escondido Police Department
- North County Regional Prostitution/Human Trafficking Task Force
- Oceanside Police Department
- San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force
- San Diego Sheriff’s Department
- National City Police Department
- San Diego County Probation
- San Diego Police Department
- San Diego County District Attorney’s Office
- California Department of Justice
- Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- “Five Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, San Diego Union-Tribune, July 25 2001.
- “5 Men Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, San Diego Union-Tribune, January 18 2002.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Six Arrests”, San Diego Union-Tribune, August 31 2004.
- “9 Arrested in Escondido Prostitution Sting”, CBS/KFMB-TV 9, June 6 2009.
- “Prostitution Prevention Task Force Nets 21 Arrests”, ABC/KGTV-TV 10, February 12 2012.
- “5 Men Arrested during Undercover Prostitution Operation,” KUSI-TV 51, September 30 2015.
- https://www.times-advocate.com/articles/seven-men-arrested-during-online-prostitution/ (2019)
- https://www.times-advocate.com/articles/six-men-arrested-during-online-prostitution-operation/ (2019)
- https://californianewstimes.com/more-than-140-arrested-in-multi-agency-sting/265509/ (2021)
- https://fox5sandiego.com/news/local-news/sex-trafficking-sting-nets-dozens-of-arrests-around-county/ (2021)
- https://www.10news.com/news/local-news/multi-day-sex-trafficking-sting-nets-144-arrests-across-san-diego-county (2021)
Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- “Two Sentenced in Sex Trafficking Cases”, San Diego Union-Tribune, November 7 2011.
- “Officers Rescue 13-Year-Old Girl from Sex Trafficking Operation,” NBC/KSND-TV 7, December 4 2015.
Background on Prostitution in the Area: