Napa, 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

The city of Napa is the largest municipality in Napa County, with a population of about 79,000. It is located north of San Pablo Bay in northern California. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city of Napa and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Napa County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in May 2011, two brothers were arrested by the Napa Police Department on suspicion of trafficking a juvenile girl. They were arrested during a probation search when officers allegedly found text messages on one man’s phone indicating the trafficking of the underage girl, including times and costs for sexual acts and nude pictures which he used to advertise to sex buyers. The suspects were arrested on suspicion of prostitution, possession of child pornography (i.e, child sexual abuse materials), conspiracy, and violation of probation, and both were booked into the Napa County jail. In July 2017, a six-month investigation culminated in the arrest of a Napa man for pimping and pandering. The suspect contacted an undercover detective online and attempted to recruit her for prostitution, telling the detective that he would come to Napa County to pick her up and take her to another location to “work.” When he arrived at the agreed upon location, he was met by NSIB detectives and arrested. In August 2018, the NSIB conducted another prostitution sting, resulting in the arrest of a 22-year-old Napa woman whose 7-month-old child was taken into protective custody by Napa County Children’s Welfare Services. Detectives received information that a Napa woman was engaged in prostitution from her apartment on Solano Avenue, and NSIB detectives served a search warrant. Detectives learned the young mother was first sex trafficked in Napa County at the age of 16, and was currently engaging in prostitution at home, sometimes while her infant was home with her. In addition, documented violence associated with commercial sex in Napa includes cases of pimps committing armed robbery against sex buyers.

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, police have conducted reverse stings and publicized the identities of the arrested sex buyers. In September 2018, the Napa Special Investigations Bureau (a unit within the Napa County Sheriff’s Office) conducted an undercover operation that resulted in the arrest of a man who had been communicating on social media with agents who were posing as a 17-year-old girl from Napa. Rather than just purchase sex, the suspect attempted to recruit the girl into child sex trafficking. Detectives said the suspect was actively involved in pimping and possibly trafficking other victims, and NSIB’s investigation was continuing. The suspect was booked into the Napa County Department of Corrections on a $500,000 bail for suspicion of attempted human trafficking and pimping and pandering a minor — all felonies.

In October 2018, a prostitution sting was conducted that was part of the Napa Special Investigations Bureau’s campaign targeting human trafficking in Napa County. “This was NSIB’s first operation aimed at demand reduction through a [reverse sting] targeting those soliciting paid sex in Napa. As the result of the sting, NSIB arrested three Napa men and many others were identified,” wrote Napa Lt. Gary Pitkin in a press statement. Demand reduction, he explained, “results in both decreased profit and incentive for predators to exploit victims of sex trafficking.” NSIB and Vacaville detectives conducted the sting in Napa. They established an online profile similar to others involved in prostitution. Those who solicited the undercover profile received a letter informing them they had been identified as having been involved in the sting, Pitkin said. Three men were arrested upon arriving at the designated hotel and were booked into the Napa County Department of Corrections (NCDC) on suspicion of solicitation of sex. This operation was made possible through NSIB’s partnership with the Napa Police Department, Napa Sheriff’s Department, Napa County District Attorney’s Office, Vacaville Police Department, and Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC). NSIB investigates both drug trafficking and human trafficking in Napa County.

In August 2019, eight men were arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor charges related to prostitution after a Napa Special Investigations Bureau sting operation. Tips about a possible brothel in Napa or American Canyon led NSIB agents to an online ad for paid sex acts in the area. Undercover agents contacted a 44-year-old Napa woman affiliated with the ad who offered sex services out of her apartment on Solano Avenue, and also began communicating with potential sex buyers. NSIB set up a sting operation at the brothel and arrested eight men, including three from Napa, two from Sonoma County, two from Solano County, and one from Contra Costa County.

Key Partners

  • Napa Police Department
  • Napa County Sheriff’s Department
    • Special Investigations Bureau
  • Napa County District Attorney’s Office
  • Vacaville Police Department
  • Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC)

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:

Dear John Letters:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State California
Type City
Population 78818
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