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Lemoore is a city in Kings County, CA, and has a population of approximately 26,000 residents. Lemoore is located 7.5 miles west-southwest of Hanford and is part of the Hanford-Corcoran MSA. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city. Among the more pervasive issues associated with the city’s commercial sex market are illicit massage businesses (IMBs). For example, in 2016, the Lemoore Police Department undercover compliance search of a suspected illicit massage business that resulted in the arrest of two women after they allegedly offered to engage in sex acts with undercover officers in exchange for money. A similar operation was conducted in 2018, resulting in the arrest of one massage parlor employee. To reduce instances of prostitution and sex trafficking within IMBs, Lemoore’s Problem Oriented Policing (POP) team conducts regular checks at massage parlors suspected of prostitution-activity.
Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. For example, in August, 2021, detectives with the Kings County Sheriff’s Office arrested 16 men in a sex-trafficking sting called “Operation Link Up,” which targeted human trafficking and sexual predators within the Central Valley. Several different agencies within the area helped the Kings County Sheriff’s Office with the three-day sting. The multi-agency operation included help from the Lemoore Police Department, Hanford Police Department, Kings County District Attorney’s Office, Kings County Major Crimes Task Force, and the California Department of Justice Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension Team. Officials from participating agencies posed as 13-year-old and 16-year-old juveniles on various social media sites. Over the course of the operation, 16 different adult individuals contacted decoy juveniles for purposes of sexually exploiting them in exchange for money. According to officials, all 16 men agreed to meet the underaged decoys at several locations within Kings County to commit the sexual act. All suspects were booked into the Kings County Jail on various charges related to arranging to meet a minor for sexual acts, sending sexually explicit materials to a minor, and meeting at an agreed-upon location for sexual acts. In addition, detectives with the Lemoore Police Department posted adult decoy ads on multiple social media outlets, resulting in the arrest of one male sex buyer for soliciting prostitution.
Employment loss is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred in the city. For example, during the 2021 sex trafficking investigation, “Operation Link Up,” one of the arrested sexual exploiters was a Lemoore Union High School District psychologist who had been employed at the high school for four years and regularly worked with parents and students. As a result of his arrest, the offender was immediately placed on paid administrative leave by both the District and law enforcement. The district also sent out a letter to parents in the community stating that no students were involved in the alleged crimes and that the district was taking the case very seriously. The identities and photos of arrested offenders were released by police to local media outlets. All suspects were arrested and booked into the Kings County Jail on various charges.
- Lemoore Police Department
- Problem Oriented Policing (POP) Team
- Hanford Police Department
- Kings County District Attorney’s Office
- Kings County Sheriff’s Office
- Kings County Major Crimes Task Force
- California Department of Justice Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension Team
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure, Employment Loss:
- https://www.yourcentralvalley.com/16-arrested-in-sex-trafficking-sting-conducted-by-kings-county-sheriffs-office/ (2021)
- https://www.kmjnow.com/17-busted-for-human-trafficking-sex-crimes-in-kings-county-during-operation-link-up/ (2021)
- https://www.yourcentralvalley.com/lemoore-union-high-school-district-employee-placed-on-administrative-leave-after-sex-trafficking-sting-arrest/ (2021)
- https://hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/lemoore-school-psychologist-arrested-in-sting (2021)
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
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