Irvine, 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

Irvine is a city of about 310,000 residents in Orange County, California, located just south of Los Angeles. Prostitution and sex trafficking are substantial problems throughout Irvine and the rest of  Orange County; e.g., in January 2016, the Orange County Register reported that 104 of the 145 victims of human trafficking identified by county law enforcement in 2015 were women and girls exploited in commercial sex.  In February, 2017 a man and woman were arrested and charged with running a sophisticated prostitution ring involving 29 women who worked out of high-end apartments in Irvine.  There have also been numerous cases of the homicide of prostituted people, including at least one serial killer who specifically targeted them. Between February 2013 and March 2014, five women involved in prostitution were found murdered in Orange County, and two more were deemed missing. In April, 2023,  a 37-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for beating and strangling a woman to death before he dumped her body in Irvine and set it afire in 2009. The offender was convicted of murder, along with a special-circumstance allegation of murder committed during a kidnapping. The body had been found in the parking lot of a business at 1851 Kettering in Irvine when an employee headed into work spotted it. The case went unsolved for a year until genetic material collected from the victim’s hand matched the DNA of the defendant. The investigation found that two brothers picked up the woman “in a high-prostitution area” of Santa Ana. When the woman tried to leave the van, she was strangled. The brothers drove around for about 90 minutes before settling on a secluded place in an industrial area of Irvine to dump the body, and then doused her remains in gasoline and set it on fire to destroy evidence.

To address problems associated with prostitution and sex trafficking, police and county law enforcement agencies have conducted reverse stings and other tactics to address the demand for commercial sex.  For example, in August, 2012 arrests were made at three separate prostitution businesses in Irvine.  Detectives had received a tip about suspicious activity and high foot traffic through a business on Technology Drive in Irvine, and uncovered a massage-parlor type setup and two additional businesses all managed by one person who was booked into the Orange County Jail on pimping and pandering charges.  Among five other arrests was one sex buyer who was cited for solicitation and released, and his identity was included in news reports.

In February, 2020 the results from the statewide “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild” were announced.  The week-long operation was led by the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force and 70 participating federal, state and local law enforcement agencies (including the Irvine Police Department) and task forces from across California.  In addition to rescuing and serving victims of sexual slavery and human trafficking and arresting then prosecuting their captors, Operation Reclaim and Rebuild also seeks to disrupt the demand for vulnerable victims by targeting their customers. Investigators focused enforcement operations wherever the trafficking of human beings took place and included street-level and internet-based operations. The operation deployed specially trained cyber detectives who posed as vulnerable teenagers and interacted with suspects on social media, traffickers and customers who sought to exploit and sexually abuse children. Operation Reclaim and Rebuild resulted in 266 male sex buyers arrested for the charge of Solicitation, as well as the recovery of 76 adult and 11 minor victims and the arrest of 27 suspected traffickers. Downloadable Material: Talking Points and Slides

A local law enforcement respondent to the 2022 National Assessment Survey reported that the city has conducted public education specifically targeting the demand for commercial sex, and has conducted web-based reverse stings in the city since 2014.

Key Partners

  • Irvine Police Department
  • Orange County Sheriff’s Office
  • Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force
  • Orange County District Attorney’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit (HEAT)
  • Garden Grove Police Department
  • Santa Ana Police Department
  • CalTrans Freeway Work Program

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey, 2022

Reverse Stings, Arrest of Sex Buyers, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State California
Type City
Population 309031
Comments are closed.