Murrieta, 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

Murrieta a city in southwestern Riverside County, California, located in the center of the Los Angeles-San Diego region near Temecula. The population of Murrieta is roughly 114,000, and has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the state.  Prostitution and sex trafficking have been identified as substantial problems within Murietta and in other nearby communities (e.g.,CoronaHemetLake ElsinoreMoreno ValleyRiversideTemecula).   The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Riverside Police and federal FBI agents have collaborated with municipal police departments – including Murieta’s – to conduct investigations into human trafficking of minors and prostitution.

To address consumer-level demand for commercial sex that drives both prostitution and sex trafficking, the Murietta Police Department, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and other agencies have conducted reverse stings on both street level and  using the internet.  For example, in January, 2021, the Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (RCAHT) participated in the annual statewide Operation Reclaim & Rebuild, which ran for a week near the end of the month.  RCAHT task force members and allied Riverside County law enforcement partners web-based reverse sting operations in the cities of Lake Elsinore, La Quinta, Murrieta, Riverside, Palm Desert and Temecula. RCAHT Task Force members placed decoy advertisements on popular classified advertisement web sites commonly used for the solicitation of prostitution. These RCAHT Task Force members then responded to prospective customers who replied to these advertisements. Once an agreement for prostitution was brokered, the customers were arrested upon their arrival at a pre-determined meeting location. The operation  arrested 61 males and one female for solicitation of prostitution, and one male for soliciting a minor for lewd purposes.  The operation was a collaboration that included the La Quinta Special Enforcement Team, Palm Desert Special Enforcement Team, Lake Elsinore Special Enforcement Team, Temecula Special Enforcement Team, Riverside Police Department and Murrieta Police Department.  The identities of the arrested sex buyers were listed in RCAHT press releases and some news reports.  During that operation, in January, 2021, the Murrieta Police Department and the RCAHT  targeted online prostitution; 10 males were arrested for solicitation of prostitution and one male was arrested for supervising/aiding a person to commit prostitution. Murrieta PD also contacted one adult female who was believed to be the victim of human trafficking and possibly being forced to engage in acts of prostitution against her will. The identities of the 10 sex buyers were released to the public.

In July, 2021, members of the Murieta Police Department Police Department Special Enforcement Team (SET) , in partnership with the Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce “conducted a proactive enforcement operation that targeted online prostitution and those whose demand for these unlawful activities fuels an illicit underground economy, both locally as well as across the state of California.”  The enforcement effort arrested thirteen men on misdemeanor prostitution charges and their photos and identifiers were included in news reports.

In February 2022 a statewide sting operation targeting online prostitution netted hundreds of arrests across California, including 38 Riverside County residents (31 of which were male sex buyers), and nine from the cities of Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Murrieta and Temecula. The four-day-long “Operation Reclaim & Rebuild” was conducted Feb. 7-10 in Riverside County and involved local law enforcement agencies from across the region along with federal investigators from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The local crackdown coincided with Operation Reclaim & Rebuild stings across the state. During the Riverside County law enforcement effort, task force members arrested 31 males and seven females for misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution. The full list of names was publicly disclosed here.  To arrest the alleged offenders, officers placed decoy advertisements on websites commonly used for prostitution. Some of the ads targeted sex buyers who were arrested once they arrived at pre-determined meeting locations, but the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said it first interviewed suspected prostitutes to ensure they were not victims of human trafficking.

Key Partners

  • Murrieta Police Department
  • Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (RCAHT)
  • Riverside County Sheriff’s Office
  • Riverside Police Department
  • La Quinta Special Enforcement Team
  • Palm Desert Special Enforcement Team
  • Lake Elsinore Special Enforcement Team
  • Temecula Special Enforcement Team
  • FBI

Key Sources

Web-based Reverse Stings, Disclosure of Identities:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

State California
Type City
Population 12941
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