Orange County, 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

Orange County, located just south of Los Angeles, California, has a population of over three million residents. The county includes the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain ValleyFullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Stanton, and Yorba Linda. Prostitution and sex trafficking are substantial problems in the area; in January 2016, the Orange County Register reported that 104 of the 145 victims of human trafficking identified by county law enforcement in 2015 were “females working in the sex trade.” The local commercial sex market has also been associated with other serious crimes. For example, Orange County has seen numerous cases of the homicide of prostituted and sex-trafficked persons, including at least one serial killer who specifically targeted them. Between February 2013 and March 2014, five women involved in prostitution were found murdered in Orange County, and two more were declared missing. In March 2014, the body of a woman involved in prostitution was discovered in a recycling plant in Santa Ana, after being placed in a dumpster. In April, 2023,  a 37-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for beating and strangling a woman to death before he dumped her body in Irvine and set it afire in 2009. The offender was convicted of murder, along with a special-circumstance allegation of murder committed during a kidnapping. The body had been found in the parking lot of a business at 1851 Kettering in Irvine when an employee headed into work spotted it. The case went unsolved for a year until genetic material collected from the victim’s hand matched the DNA of the defendant. The investigation found that two brothers picked up the woman “in a high-prostitution area” of Santa Ana. When the woman tried to leave the van, she was strangled. The brothers drove around for about 90 minutes before settling on a secluded place in an industrial area of Irvine to dump the body, and then doused her remains in gasoline and set it on fire to destroy evidence.

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. In their efforts to reduce sex trade activity and its wide array of other serious related crimes, county law enforcement agencies have conducted reverse stings on the street (since at least 1976) and web-based reverse stings (since 2001). In 2012, neighborhoods around Beach Boulevard held a flashlight walk with the help of police, in an effort to send a message that prostitution was not welcome in their area. In April 2013, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced that it would begin systematically releasing the names of all sex buyers arrested in the county, in response to growing complaints about sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation in the area. The OCDAO also has been known to send letters to individuals arrested for soliciting prostitution.

In November 2013, the OCDA released a statement summarizing the prosecution and sentencing of 13 male sex buyers previously arrested during reverse stings in Santa Ana and Garden Grove. In addition to listing the name, age, and hometown of each offender, the statement detailed the circumstances surrounding each man’s arrest. Several of the men convicted face jail time, 2-4 years of informal probation, AIDS testing and education, and mandatory community service. All were required to donate $100 to the county’s Victim/Witness Emergency Fund.

In February 2014 and October 2014, similar statements were released by the OCDA, describing the conviction of 14 sex buyers arrested in January and September 2014 for attempting to buy sex. The defendants in these cases approached a female decoy “in areas known for prostitution and human trafficking in Orange County.” The defendants were each sentenced to up to three years of informal probation, up to 15 days in jail (with the possibility of CalTrans in lieu of jail), and required to submit to HIV/AIDS testing and education, and some were required to donate to the Victim/Witness Emergency fund. CalTrans is a community service program offered in appropriate cases as a sentencing option in Orange County. The program involves removing litter from roads, clearing brush, or removing graffiti from the walls of city buildings, and is generally set as a condition of probation.

In January 2021, five men were charged with the sexual exploitation of a teenage girl from Anaheim, the arrests were the result of a long investigation. County officials arrested the men over a span of several months. The investigation was initiated in September 2021, after they received reports of a possible child sex trafficking victim and a community complaint to the task force about suspected sex trafficking/commercial sexual exploitation activity occurring. The investigation centered on the website SugarDaddyMeet and led to the identification of the juvenile victim, followed by a four-month investigation focused on tracking down men who reportedly met with the victim to sexually exploit her in exchange for money. The Orange County District Attorney’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking unit filed charges for solicitation of a minor in addition to felony sex offenses.

The Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force detailed the following charges:

  • The first defendant was charged with one felony count of human trafficking of a minor, one felony count of pimping a minor for prostitution, and one felony count of pandering a minor.
  • The second defendant was charged with six felony counts of lewd acts upon a teenager, six felony counts of oral sex with a minor, 18 misdemeanor counts of soliciting, engaging, or agreeing to engage in prostitution with a minor, and one felony count of sodomy of a minor.
  • The third defendant was charged with one felony count of meeting a minor to commit lewd conduct, one felony count of attempted sodomy of a minor, one felony count of attempted unlawful sexual intercourse, and one felony count of attempted oral copulation.
  • The fourth defendant was charged with 10 felony counts of lewd acts upon a teenager, and one misdemeanor count of solicitation, engaging or agreeing to engage with the prostitution of a minor.
  • The fifth was charged with one felony count of a lewd act on a teenager, one felony count of luring a child with criminal intent, one felony count of meeting a minor to commit lewd conduct, two misdemeanor counts of soliciting, engaging or agreeing to engage in prostitution with a minor, and was also charged with one misdemeanor count of arranging to meet a minor for lewd conduct.

Key Partners

  • Orange County Sheriff’s Office
  • Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force
  • Orange County District Attorney’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit (HEAT)
  • Garden Grove Police Department
  • Santa Ana Police Department
  • CalTrans Freeway Work Program

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Community Service:


Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State California
Type County
Population 3186989
Comments are closed.