Lake County, 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

Lake County is a county of about 69,000 residents located in the north central portion of the state of California. The county seat is Lakeport. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in county over the past decade. Among the more serious issues associated with the commercial sex market in the county is child sex trafficking. For example, in 2018, a Lakeport couple accused of sex trafficking teenage girls in the Bay Area was arrested. The investigation was initiated after a young woman approached then-District Attorney, Don Anderson, reporting that she was a victim of sex trafficking. The DA said that he was approached by the woman after speaking at a play about sex trafficking called “Jane Doe in Wonderland” at the Soper-Reese Theater in April 2018. Based on her report, the DA’s Office immediately initiated an investigation, which led officials to the discovery a larger sex trafficking operation led by the Lakeport couple. The couple allegedly recruited girls from local high schools, and after turning 18, the girls would be transported to San Francisco for purposes of sex trafficking. The sex traffickers were arrested and booked at Lake County jail. The man was charged with human trafficking and tax evasion under the penalty of perjury and his bail was set at $2,000,000; the woman was charged with human trafficking and her bail was set at $1,000,000. Investigators believed the couple lived on the earnings of their victims and neither were involved in a legitimate business or income. The sex traffickers’ identities and photos were included in reports from local news sources. According to officials, this was the third case in which the District Attorney’s Office had made arrests for human trafficking in 2018.

In 2018, the Lake County District Attorney’s Office, in coordination with the Clearlake Police Department, conducted a six-month web-based sex trafficking and prostitution investigation that led to the arrest of two male sex traffickers and the recovery of one adult female victim of sex trafficking at a local motel. One of the sex traffickers was arrested for four counts of human trafficking, one count of pimping, and a parole violation, the second man was arrested for human trafficking for prostitution, pimping, procuring a person for prostitution, inflicting traumatic injury on a person, threats to kill or produce great bodily injury, and solicitation of perjury. In addition, the Lake County District Attorney’s Office reported that five of the women interviewed were sex trafficked through fear of being harmed and in some cases were actually beaten by the suspects. In one case, a developmentally disabled young adult was sex trafficked. Both offenders had a prior history of charges of pimping and pandering. The identities and photos of the sex traffickers were included in reports from local news sources.

In effort to combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the county, officials have deployed demand-reduction tactics such as other buyer arrests. Law enforcement has apprehended sex buyers as a result of other investigations or from residential reports to police. For example, in the summer of 2021, a southern California man was arrested in Lake County on suspicion of lewd acts with a child and soliciting prostitution from a minor. The investigation began after a mother of a 15-year-old girl contacted the Lake County Sheriff’s Office reporting that her daughter had been sexually assaulted. In addition, the teenage girl told deputies that she had met a man using a false name online in February 2021, and on multiple occasions, the man sexually exploited her in exchange for narcotics. A deputy had the teenager contact the man on the social media app and asked him to meet her at a business in the Middletown area. At the agreed time and place, the deputy contacted the 31-year-old Murrieta man who eventually admitted to knowing the victim and claiming he thought she was 18. He was arrested on several charges and was also found to have a felony warrant out of Texas for possession of child sexual abuse materials (i.e., child pornography). The offender was arrested and held on charges of suspicion of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, arranging to meet a minor for sex, oral copulation, false identification to a peace officer, and furnishing a controlled substance.

State California
Type County
Population 68766
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