Modesto, 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

Modesto is a city of approximately 219,000 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 woman 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. Local police have also utilized surveillance cameras that targeted sex buyers on at least one occasion.

More recently, a street-based operation occurred in January 2011. The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department arrested men for prostitution solicitation during the course of a reverse sting operation on South 9th Street. Deputies with the Sheriff’s Department planned and implemented an operation targeting those who solicit prostituted women for sex. By utilizing women deputy decoys, dressed in plainclothes at the time, a sting was conducted at a local motel. The operation lasted ten 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, 23 vehicles were towed from the parking lot of the motel. All arrests were made without incident. The identities of all arrestees were publicized.

In 2019, the local portion of the statewide annual “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild” 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 men through 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 the following: 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. The Modest PD has collaborated on similar large scale operations conducted in 2020 and 2021 that have resulted in dozens of arrested sex buyers throughout the county.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings:


Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State California
Type City
Population 218771
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