Humboldt County, 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

Humboldt County is located on the Pacific coast in northern California, and has a population of about 136,000.  It is largely rural, but contains small cities such as Eureka (pop. approximately 27,000).   The historic Old Town section of Eureka is the most notorious area for street prostitution and historically was the setting for the majority of the Eureka Police Department’s prostitution stings.  Another town in the county with prostitution activity is Blue Lake, with approximately 1,100 residents located near Eureka.

Problems associated with the local commercial sex market include violent crimes, such as the rape, assault, and robbery of prostituted women.  The county has had cases of the murder of prostituted women, including the activity of at least one serial killer who specifically targeted women exploited in prostitution. Complaints from residents and businesses play a large role in police prostitution operations.  Prior to 2010, most of the stings conducted were of the traditional model, street-based and focusing more on the women than the male sex buyers.  In 2005, when prostitution began shifting online nationwide, Eureka police added web-based operations as well.

In 2012 a reverse sting was conducted in Blue Lake, in response to complaints from a hotel to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office about suspected prostitution.  A web-based reverse sting was conducted and two johns were arrested at the hotel.  One man was from Crescent City and the other from McKinleyville, and they were transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility.  The names and ages of the arrestees were released to media outlets.

If convicted of soliciting prostitution in Humboldt County, the penalty is a fine of $1000 and up to six months in jail.  Those convicted are required to take an HIV test, and if they are found to be positive, and are then arrested subsequently for solicitation, they may be charged with a felony.

Key Partners

  • Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office
  • Humboldt County Community Response Unit
  • Humboldt County Drug Task Force
State California
Type County
Population 135558
Comments are closed.