Riverside County, CA

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Riverside County is in southern California southeast of Los Angeles with a population of approximately 2.1 million. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been identified as substantial problems in the communities (e.g., Corona, Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Moreno Valley, MurrietaRiverside, Temecula) and unincorporated ares of the county.   The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Riverside Police and federal FBI agents conducted a long-term joint investigation into human trafficking of minors and prostitution.  More than one serial killer have specifically targeted prostituted women and girls in the county, and there have been other assaults and homicides of people involved in commercial sex.

To address consumer-level demand for commercial sex that drives both prostitution and sex trafficking, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Riverside Police and other agencies have conducted county-wide 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, on January 27, 2021, the Murrieta Police Department and the RCAHT conducted a proactive enforcement operation that 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.

Key Partners

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

Key Sources

Web-based Reverse Stings, Shaming:

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 County
Population 2064365
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