Menlo Park, 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

Menlo Park is a city within the San Francisco Bay Area, located at the eastern edge of San Mateo County, CA, and has a population of roughly 34,000 residents. Menlo Park is an affluent city surrounded by three of the wealthiest Zip Codes in the country. Located on the eastern edge of the Silicon Valley, the city hosts major employers, such as SRI International, the U.S. Geological Survey, Facebook, Pacific Biosciences, E*TRADE Financial Corporation, and CS Bio Co. Prostitution and sex trafficking have not been significant issues in the city. Still, instances of their occurrence have been documented. In 2018, in a situation that intelligence officials referred to as a ‘full-on epidemic of espionage,’ officials believed that Moscow was using local Russian and East European prostituted women to gather information on Silicon Valley’s top executives and relaying the information back to Russia. Officials also believe that the majority of this activity was occurring at a single, upscale hotel in Menlo Park, the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel. A hotel that is close to many of Silicon Valley’s top financial firms. A former intelligence officer was quoted as saying,

“If I were a Russian intelligence officer, and I knew that these high-end girls were dragging CEOs of major companies back to their rooms, I’d be paying them for info too. It’s that whole idea of concentric rings: You don’t need to be on the inside, you just need somebody on the inside that you have access to.”

In response to the allegations, the Rosewood Sand Hill vehemently denied that their establishment was ground-zero for such activities; however, investigations into the hotel and any potential illicit activity are ongoing.

To reduce the demand for commercial sex in the city, the Menlo Park Police Department has been known to conduct reverse stings. For example, in 2017, the Menlo Park Police Department, in addition to numerous other local, county, and state agencies, participated in the 11th annual nationwide child sex trafficking investigation, “Operation Cross County XI,” led by the FBI San Francisco Division and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). As a result of the investigation, 84 minors were recovered, and 120 sex traffickers were arrested nationwide. The operations in the San Francisco Bay Area resulted in the rescue of one child sex trafficking victim and one adult sex trafficking victim. Police gave citations to 27 prostituted women who were also offered exit strategy services and resources, in addition to the arrest of 12 male sex buyers, arrest of five men for solicitation of a minor for lewd purposes, and arrest of four men for sex trafficking probation violations. According to reports, the operation was focused on apprehending sex buyers and sex traffickers across the nation.

Identity disclosure is another consequence of sex buying that occurs in the city. For example, in 2011, an officer with the Menlo Park Police Department was arrested for soliciting prostitution during an investigation that began as a probation warrant search on a 32-year-old Sunnyvale woman. According to reports, the sex buyer told Sunnyvale police that he was a Menlo Park detective and had gone to Sunnyvale to serve a subpoena. However, the officer claimed he had an “hour to kill” because the person he was trying to serve wasn’t home yet. He also revealed to officers that he had solicited the prostituted woman on “My Redbook,” a website commonly used to advertise sexual services; the man also admitted it was not the first time he had solicited sex from a prostituted woman. Officials from Menlo Park would not confirm that the sex buyer had been arrested or discuss the disciplinary measures taken against the officer. The officer was allegedly dismissed from duty due to his arrest; however, Menlo Park reinstated the officer after he challenged the city’s undisclosed disciplinary action against him. The sex buyer’s identity was released by police to local media outlets.

State California
Type City
Population 33780
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