Irvine is a city of about 275,000 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.
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
- 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
Arrest and Shaming of Sex Buyers:
- https://abc11.com/archive/8767723/ (2012)
- https://lasd.org/operation-reclaim-and-rebuild-2020/ (2020)
- https://patch.com/california/losalamitos/5-oc-men-charged-sexual-exploitation-underage-girl (2021)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Sex, Drug Ring Broken Up, Sheriff Says”, Los Angeles Times, April 21 1983.
- “Witness in Custody for 10 Months; California Claims Teen Informant in Molestation Case Is in Danger”, Palm Beach Post, January 28 1984.
- “Anaheim Prostitution Ring Broken, Police Say”, Los Angeles Times, April 13 1994.
- “Police Suspect Increase in Prostitution Rings”, Los Angeles Times, September 21 1997.
- “Man Sought in Girl-Prostitution Case”, Seattle Times, August 19 1999.
- “Six Charged in SoCal Prostitution Ring with Links to Chinese”, Lodi News-Sentinel, March 23 2007.
- “Man Arrested on Federal Sex Trafficking Charges”, ABC/KGTV-TV 10, April 15 2009.
- “Man Accused of Soliciting Teen on MySpace’, United Press International, April 16 2009.
- “Man Intended to Prostitute Teens, Authorities Say”, Orange County Register, August 15 2011.
- “Long Beach Man, 34, Charged with Forcing Women to Work As Prostitutes”, CBS/KCAL-TV 9, March 1 2013.
- “Is Huntington Beach Teeming with Sex Slaves?”, OC Weekly, March 7 2013.
- “FBI Arrest Another Alleged Pimp in Southern California Sex Slave Ring”, OC Weekly, March 8 2013.
- “Police: State Agency Hinders Restriction of Prostitution in Massage Parlors”, Orange County Register, March 27 2013.
- “Prostitution Case 1st in OC to Increase Human Trafficking Penalties”, CBS/KCAL-TV 9, March 28 2013.
- “‘Modern-Day Slave Owner’ Sentenced for Human Trafficking in O.C.”, Los Angeles Times, August 12 2013.
- “Man, 25, Sentenced to 6 Years after Pleading Guilty to Human Trafficking, Prostitution Charges”, Greenfield Daily Reporter, June 28 2014.
- “Long Beach Man Gets 20 Years in Prison for Orange County Prostitution Ring,” Orange County Register, February 20 2015.
- “‘Mastermind’ behind Prostitution Ring Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison,” Long Beach Post, February 20 2015.
- “Two Men Arrested in Westminster Prostitution Investigation,” Orange County Register, May 1 2015.
- “Victims, Not Criminals: Fewer Arrests of Prostitutes as Philosophy Shifts,” Orange County Register, January 22 2016.
- “Gang Member Is Charged with Sex Trafficking of 7 Teenage Girls,” Los Angeles Times, January 20 2016.
- “Man Charged with Pimping and Human Trafficking in Newport Prostitution Case,” Los Angeles Times, April 6 2016.
- https://abc7.com/prostitution-brothel-human-trafficking-sex/1734881/ (2017)
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Wealthy Clientele in the County Continue to Lure Prostitution Vice”, Los Angeles Times, August 27 1991.
- “Illinois Killer Charged in 5 SoCal Deaths”, United Press International, August 5 2009.
- “Costa Mesa Man, Brother Plead Not Guilty in Murder Case”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, March 26 2011.
- “Pimps Feed on Twisting Californian Dream”, CNN, August 9 2011.
- “California Supreme Court Overturns O.C. Killer’s Death Sentence”, Los Angeles Times, February 2 2012.
- “Death Recommended for O.C. Rapist”, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, March 13 2013.
- “Runaway Prostitute, 17, Stabbed to Death in Wealthy Orange County Neighborhood”, Long Beach Press Telegram, February 6 2014.
- “Mystery Shrouds Missing, Dead Women; Is There a Connection?”, Orange County Register, March 22 2014.
- “Man Who Choked Prostitute with Belt Gets 15 Years in Prison”, Los Angeles Times, July 28 2014.
- “2 Registered Sex Offenders to Be Arraigned on Raping, Killing 4 Women in O.C.”, My News LA, October 3 2014.
- “Accused O.C. Serial Killers Indicted on Rape, Murder Charges”, Los Angeles Times, October 3 2014.