Modesto, CA

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Modesto is a city of approximately 200,000 residents, located in central California’s Stanislaus County about an hour south of Sacramento. The city has struggled with street prostitution and sex trafficking along its major roads for more than 50 years. While local law enforcement issued citations to sex buyers found as they focused on arresting prostituted women in the 1960s and 1970s, officers began making a concerted effort to target sex buyers in the early 1980s. To this end, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and Modesto Police Department conducted their first street-level reverse sting in November 1981, using an undercover female deputy as a decoy. Operations have been conducted on a consistent basis since then, although the scope and duration of the stings has varied substantially. In their efforts, officers have utilized surveillance cameras on at least one occasion that targeted sex buyers.

A contemporary example of a street-based operation occurred in January, 2011.  The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department arrested men for prostitution solicitation during the course of a “John” sting operation on South 9th Street.  Deputies with the Sheriff’s Department planned and implemented an operation targeting those who solicit prostitutes for sex. By utilizing female deputy decoys, dressed in plainclothes at the time, a sting was conducted at a motel located on S. 9th Street.  The operation lasted 10-hours and resulted in the arrest of 26-men, all of whom attempted to pay the decoys money for sex. As a result of those arrests, and 23-vehicles were towed from the parking lot of the motel. All arrests were made without incident and no contraband was recovered.  The identities of all arrestees were publicized.

In 2019 the local portion of the statewide annual Operation Rebuild and Reclaim in Stanislaus County resulted in the arrests of 33 individuals over a three-day period. The operation was conducted at motels in Modesto, Westley, and Turlock. Law enforcement officer contacted various websites commonly used for the purposes of prostitution and set up meetings.  The identities of the arrested sex buyers were disclosed in news releases.  Agencies participating in the operation were: Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, Turlock Police Department, Patterson Police Services, Riverbank Police Services, Waterford Police Services, Stanislaus Probation Department, Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office and Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus.



Key Sources

State California
Type City
Population 203955
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