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Indio is a city of about 90,000 residents in south-central California, located just inland from the city of San Bernardino along Interstate 10. Prostitution has reportedly been widespread in the city for decades, and police continue to field complaints about it from residents. Sex trafficking is also known to be widespread in areas surrounding San Bernardino and throughout Riverside County, and cases have occurred in the city of Indio. Recent examples include a 2016 criminal investigation of a Facebook prostitution pandering scheme, where the offender contacted young-looking and underage females throughout Southern California, including the Coachella Valley. A man was eventually convicted and sentenced to 122 years and 8 months to life in prison after being charged with 61 felonies related to sex trafficking. Another example was an investigation that began in 2017 in response to a presentation on human trafficking at Shadow Hills High School in Indio. It was followed by a tip from two female students who separately provided similar accounts, saying that the same woman had attempted to recruit them for prostitution using Facebook. Court records showed that those actions then sparked an investigation into what eventually revealed more than 69 potential victims over the course of about one year. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted the trafficker on numerous offenses related to facilitating prostitution and sex trafficking of minors.
Indio Police and the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office are known to have targeted consumer-level demand for prostitution by conducting street-level reverse stings and releasing the identities of the arrested sex buyers. For example, in 2003, city officials also passed an ordinance authorizing the seizure of vehicles used for the purposes of solicitation.
- Indio Police Department
- San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office
- “Across the Valley”, Palm Springs Desert Sun, September 27 1999.
- “Across the Valley”, Palm Springs Desert Sun, July 20 2004.
Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- “Here’s More of the Plan to Combat Human Trafficking in S.B. County”, Riverside Press-Enterprise, January 18 2013.
- http://www.kesq.com/news/crime/man-sentenced-to-122-years-in-fb-prostitution-pandering-case (2017)
- http://www.kesq.com/news/crime/hs-students-report-suspected-felon-after-human-trafficking-presentation (2018)
- https://www.desertsun.com/riverside-county-anti-human-trafficking-operation-makes-64-arrests (2021)
- https://patch.com/accused-trafficking-girls-sex-desert-man-denies-charges (2022)
- https://nbcpalmsprings.com/indio-man-accused-of-trafficking-five-minors-set-to-appear-in-court (2022)
- https://myrcns.com/accused-of-sex-trafficking-at-least-7-juvenile-victims-indio-suspect-nabbed/ (2022)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Woman Riding in Swaggart’s Car Says She’s a Prostitute”, Los Angeles Times, October 12 1991.
- “Revisiting the Hookers of Indio”, Los Angeles Times, November 15 1991.
- “Indio Reviews Its Adult Business Policy”, Palm Springs Desert Sun, January 31 2006.
- https://ca-riversidesheriff-hidden.civicplus.com/CivicAlerts (2020)
- https://patch.com/california/palmdesert/11-arrested-palm-desert-prostitution-sting (2021)
- https://kesq.com/former-cvusd-security-director-busted-in-prostitution-sting-pleads-not-guilty/ (2021)
- https://mynewsla.com/woman-accused-of-running-prostitution-ring-out-on-bail/ (2021)