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.
- Street-Level Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “Police Aim at Customers in Prostitution Crackdown”, Modesto Bee, November 15 1981.
- “Soliciting Charges Filed Against 6 Men”, Modesto Bee, August 3 1983.
- “Arrests Ease Prostitution Woes”, Modesto Bee, June 10 1984.
- “Eight Arrested in ‘Sting'”, Modesto Bee, June 8 1989.
- “S. Ninth Street Sweep Leads to Over 50 Arrests”, Modesto Bee, June 27 1992.
- “2-Day Prostitution Sting Results in 20 Arrests”, Modesto Bee, May 20 1994.
- “6 Arrests in Prostitution Sting”, Modesto Bee, January 26 1995.
- “Modesto Prostitution Sting Nets 14 Men”, Modesto Bee, September 13 1997.
- “27 Held in Prostitution Sting; Two-Day Sweep in South Modesto by Sheriff’s Deputies”, Modesto Bee, June 3 2000.
- “Police, Deputies Arrest 31 in Prostitution Sting”, Modesto Bee, March 15 2003.
- “Prostitution Sting”, Modesto Bee, April 23 2005.
- “Prostitution Sting Results in 21 Arrests”, Modesto Bee, April 25 2005.
- “VIDEO: Prostitution Bust Cleans Up Streets”, KCRA-TV 3, January 10 2011.
- “26 Men Nabbed in ‘John’ Sting”, Modesto Bee, January 11 2011.
- Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Police Arrest 4 Believed in Prostitution”, Modesto Bee, September 29 1969.
- “4 Teens Accused of Prostitution”, Modesto Bee, April 29 1983.
- “Basketball Coach Picked Up in Prostitution Bust”, Modesto Bee, June 3 1983.
- “Police Find Underage Prostitutes Online, Try to Lead Them From Life”, Modesto Bee, May 29 2008.
- “Modestan Gets 25 Years for Child Porn, Attempted Sex Trafficking,” Modesto Bee, July 21 2015.
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Modesto Man Will Stand Trial for Kidnap, Rape”, Modesto Bee, October 27 1984.
- “Modesto Man, 18, Arrested in Assault Against Prostitute”, Modesto Bee, March 29 1986.
- “Prostitute Reports Kidnap, Sexual Assault”, Modesto Bee, May 7 1987.
- “Defendant Denies Rape, Says 6 Paid Woman for Sex”, Modesto Bee, October 20 1995.
- “Prosecutor: Consent in Question”, Modesto Bee, October 25 1995.
- “Ordeal Scars Victim; Rape, Defense Hurt Jane Doe”, Modesto Bee, October 28 1995.
- “Rape Retrial Sought; Defense Claims Victim Worked as Prostitute”, Modesto Bee, April 19 1996.
- “Prostitution, Not Rape, Suggested; Amid Questioning about ‘Fees’, 2 Women Insist Sex Was Forced”, Modesto Bee, October 19 2005.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Four Are Jailed as Vagrants, on Morals Charges”, Modesto Bee, October 3 1955.
- “Letters from the People: Name the Men”, Modesto Bee, May 3 1964.
- “Policemen Overhear Proposition, Arrest Woman as Hustler”, Modesto Bee, November 30 1964.
- “Nights on Ninth Street”, Modesto Bee, January 6 2008.
- “Detectives Use Internet to Investigate Prostitution”, Press Release, City of Modesto, June 2 2008.
- “Modesto Cracking Down on Prostitution at Massage Parlors”, FOX/KTXL-TV 40, February 22 2013.
- “Sheriff Says Prostitution at Motels Won’t End Soon”, FOX/KTXL-TV 40, May 16 2013.