Lompoc is a city of approximately 44,000 residents, located in Santa Barbara County, California. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Sant Barbara County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.
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. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Lompoc Police Department and collaborating agencies have conducted street-level and web-based reverse stings, some in response to community complaints. On September 29 and October 13, 2017, law enforcement officers from several agencies were involved in a reverse sting which featured placing an online ad in a public website known for prostitution-related advertisements. An undercover detective negotiated with inquiring persons a sexual act for an amount of money. After the negotiation, the detective gave the person the location of a hotel to meet for the sex act. People arriving at the location were arrested for solicitation of prostitution. Fifteen men ranging inage from 22 to 60 were arrested for prostitution-related crimes during the two-day law enforcement operation at a Lompoc hotel. Twelve men were arrested for suspicion of soliciting prostitution, and their identities were publicly released. Two men faced possession of methamphetamine charges along with solicitation of prostitution charges. One man was arrested during the October 13 operation when he arrived at the location after negotiating a sex act with a person he believed was under the age of 18, and was booked at the county jail on charges of meeting a minor for a lewd purpose and for solicitation of prostitution. The operation was a collaboration of the Lompoc Police Department, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office. The stings were part of an ongoing effort to combat human trafficking in the county, and was assisted by a federal grant for investigating and prosecuting offenders, and providing aid to victims.
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Shaming:
- https://www.noozhawk.com/article/15_men_arrested_after_prostitution_sting_in_lompoc (2017)
- https://www.keyt.com/news/crime/fifteen-people-arrested-in-lompoc-prostitution-sting-operation (2017)
- https://lompocrecord.com/news/local/fifteen-people-arrested-for-prostitution-related-crimes-during–day (2017)
- https://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/crime/article179403541.html (2017)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://lompocrecord.com/news/local/prostitution-sting-in-santa-maria-leads-to-multiple-arrests (2017)
- https://santamariatimes.com/news/local/county-lines-woman-arrested-on-suspicion-of-prostitution-after-inspection (2018)
- https://lompocrecord.com/news/local/fighting-for-survival-santa-barbara-county-closing-ranks-on-human/-trafficking (2018)