La Quinta, 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

La Quinta is a desert resort city in Riverside County, CA, and has a population of approximately 38,000 residents. Located between Indian Wells and Indio, it is one of the nine cities of the Coachella Valley. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city and surrounding areas. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates have resulted in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in 2009, the La Quinta Police Department arrested the owner of a local massage parlor for sex trafficking/pimping and two employees for prostitution. The investigation was initiated after police received numerous complaints from concerned citizens that illicit sexual activity was occurring at the massage parlor. In 2021, a 61-year-old massage parlor owner was arrested for prostitution in La Quinta. According to reports, deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant that stemmed from a prior incident in which a sex act was negotiated in exchange for money with undercover officials. The massage parlor owner was also charged with maintaining a house for prostitution or lewdness. In April 2022, Riverside County deputies seized $14,000 in cash from two women accused of running a prostitution house in La Quinta.

To address consumer-level demand for commercial sex that drives both prostitution and sex trafficking, the La Quinta Police Department has conducted both street-level and web-based reverse stings. These operations are often conducted along with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office. For example, in December 2020, members of the Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (RCAHT), with the assistance of the La Quinta Special Enforcement Team (SET), conducted a web-based reverse sting operation in the city of La Quinta. RCAHT and La Quinta SET members posted decoy advertisements on several classified advertisement websites commonly used for the solicitation of prostitution. The task force members then communicated with prospective sex buyers who had replied to the decoy advertisements. After an agreement for paid sex acts, sex buyers were arrested upon their arrived at a pre-determined meeting location. As a result of this enforcement effort, a total of 17 male sex buyers were arrested on misdemeanor prostitution charges. Arrested offenders were identified in news releases.

In January 2021, the Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (RCAHT), in partnership with the La Quinta Special Enforcement Team, Palm Desert Special Enforcement Team, Lake Elsinore Special Enforcement Team, Temecula Special Enforcement Team, Riverside Police Department, and Murrieta Police Department, participated in the annual “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild,” which focuses on targeting individuals seeking to purchase commercial sex online locally as well as across the State of California. As a result of the investigation, 64 individuals were arrested — 61 males and one female for solicitation of prostitution, one male for soliciting a minor for lewd purposes, and one male for supervising/aiding a person to commit prostitution. RCAHT Task Force members placed decoy advertisements on popular classified advertisement web sites commonly used for the solicitation of prostitution. These RCAHT Task Force members then responded to prospective sex buyers who replied to these advertisements. Once an agreement for prostitution was brokered, the sex buyers were arrested upon their arrival at a pre-determined meeting location. Concurrently, other task force members negotiated agreed upon acts of prostitution based upon other escort advertisements that were posted online in the area. The identities of the arrested sex buyers were listed in RCAHT press releases and some news reports.

In June and September 2021, the La Quinta Special Enforcement Team (SET) in coordination with the Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (RCAHT) conducted two web-based reverse prostitution stings in La Quinta, together resulting in the arrest of 20 male sex buyers.

State California
Type City
Population 38181
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