Kern County, CA

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Kern County is an area with approximately 840,000 residents, located in California’s Central Valley.  Bakersfield is the county’s seat and largest city. Many crimes and serious problems have been linked to prostitution in the county, including sex trafficking and the homicide of prostituted women. For example, a relatively routine prostitution case in 2009 involved a Rio Norte Junior High School teaching assistant and her daughter being arrested on suspicion of soliciting prostitution through an Internet advertisement. Kern County sheriff’s vice unit detectives began investigating the women after being notified of the online ads.  The women, aged 56 and 31, were arrested after they removed all of their clothes for an undercover deputy who responded to their ad. The ads on and showed photos of two partially clothed women – one younger and one older – offering a one-hour massage for $250 and a $60 bonus option promising a “Sensual Massage by Mother/Daughter Duo – $250/hr.”  Each woman faced misdemeanor charges for solicitation of prostitution and for managing a massage parlor without a license. Kern County Sheriff’s officials continued their ongoing sting operations at illicit massage parlors, in collaboration with the Kern County Public Health Services Department.  In March 2018, they announced their third undercover sting operation conducted jointly by Public Health and KCSO, which included the arrest of women cited on suspicion of solicitation of prostitution at Golden Massage on 35315 Merle Haggard Drive, and at Bella Sol Salon Massage on 1002 Wible Road, and the closure of both businesses.

In an effort to identify and apprehend sex buyers, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office has collaborated with the Bakersfield Police Department to conduct several street-level reverse stings using undercover female officers as decoys to arrest johns. As of 2008, the Kern County Sheriff’s Department may also use web reverse stings to apprehend offenders soliciting sex online.

Key Sources

State California
Type County
Population 787179
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