Milpitas is a city of approximately 85,000 residents located in Santa Clara County, California, in Silicon Valley near San Jose. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in June, 2017, Milpitas officials confirmed that a massage parlor that was cited for prostitution earlier that year was effectively shut down. The spa’s departure from South Hillview Drive — adjacent to other businesses in a strip mall that includes a nursing school. Milpitas Police, responding to anonymous tips to police that first began in August 2016 concerning alleged prostitution taking place at the business, conducted an undercover operation and cited four women for prostitution at the business.
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, reverse stings have been conducted. For example, in October, 2016, the Milpitas Police Department collaborated with numerous partner agencies in the region to conduct operations in support of Operation Cross Country X, an international effort focused on ending child sex trafficking. The operation took place from October 11 to 15, 2016, and spanned six counties in the Bay Area (San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Alameda, Santa Clara, and Sonoma). In addition to recovering six juvenile trafficking victims and 14 pimps and traffickers, the operation resulted in the arrest or citation of 79 adult male sex buyers, and “cyber patrol” contact with 63 adult men. Cyber patrols involve potential sex buyers (“tricks” or “Johns”) being contacted by law enforcement and advised of the harm caused by engaging in prostitution. FBI San Francisco Division coordinated the California effort for Operation Cross Country X, and 28 additional agencies participated: Alameda County DA’s Office, Probation, and Sheriff’s Office; Alameda Police Department; Belmont Police Department; Campbell Police Department; Central Marin Police Authority; Concord Police Department; Department of State; Hayward Police Department; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Marin County Sheriff’s Office; Milpitas Police Department; Morgan Hill Police Department; Oakland Police Department; Piedmont Police Department; Redwood City Police Department; San Francisco DA’s Office and Police Department; San Jose Police Department; San Mateo County Juvenile Probation; San Mateo Police Department; San Rafael Police Department; Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and Juvenile Probation; Santa Rosa County DA’s Office and Sheriff’s Office; Santa Rosa Police Department
In January, 2020, Santa Clara County law officers participated in statewide Operation Reclaim and Rebuild operation, the sixth year the sheriff’s office and five South Bay agencies participated in the state-wide effort to aggressively target suspects and victims of human trafficking. During the last week in January, undercover agents targeted sex traffickers online, setting up meetings in a Milpitas hotel. Detectives would respond to those ads and set up a date for commercial sex, and when the individual would arrive they would be arrested. Sixteen male sex buyers were arrested for soliciting prostitution.
- Milpitas Police Department
- Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Human Trafficking Taskforce
- Homeland Security Investigations
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/sanfrancisco/news/press-releases/fbi-partners-complete-operation-cross-country-x (2016)
- https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/operation-cross-country-x (2016)
- https://www.ktvu.com/news/16-arrested-5-rescued-in-south-bay-human-trafficking-bust (2020)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://patch.com/california/milpitas/sheriff-s-arrests-prostitution-and-vehicle-code-violad6c8551388 (2012)
- https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/02/05/pre-super-bowl-arrests-made-in-south-bay-prostitution-human-trafficking-stings/ (2016)
- https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/08/10/milpitas-to-review-stricter-massage-parlor-regulations/ (2017)
- https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/06/15/milpitas-massage-parlor-shutters-after-prostitution-citations/ (2017)
- https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/investigators-bust-suspected-human-traffickers-in-santa-clara-county/ (2020)