Sacramento 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

Sacramento County is a county of approximately 1.6 million residents, including the cities Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, and North Highlands, California. The county has had activity of serial rapists and murderers that specifically targeted prostituted women. Many cases of child sex trafficking have been documented in the county, as have assaults, rapes, weapons offenses, and other, less severe local crimes and public disorder problems linked to prostitution have generated numerous complaints from residents. For example, in March, 2023, a man who was convicted of numerous criminal charges, including human trafficking in Sacramento County, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office said that the offender pled guilty to charges of forcible rape, human trafficking of a minor, pimping a minor over 16 years of age, pimping by encouraging a minor over 16, deriving support from proceeds of a person’s prostitution, two counts of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and misdemeanor prevent/dissuade a victim from making a report. The charges stem from incidents that occurred in 2020 and 2021. In the first, the man went to a massage therapy spa and demanded a massage. During the massage, he forced the victim down on the massage table and raped her. The victim eventually fought the man off and chased him out of the business. He was later arrested and jailed. In the next incident, the man was out on bail for the rape charge when he punched a 19-year-old girl in the face, causing her lip to split and requiring stitches. The victim did not report the assault. Then at a later time the man prevented the same victim from leaving his car by grabbing her by the neck. She escaped and reported both incidents to the police, and reported that the offender pimped her, forcing her to give him all the money she made. The man was arrested, and while in jail, placed several calls to a 17-year-old victim who he allegedly asked to help post his bail, indicating she should “prostitute herself” to pay for his release. The offender posted bail with money the 17-year-old girl sent him, that she had generated by sex trafficking. The D.A.’s office said the offender continued to contact the second and third victims while in jail, encouraging them to lie to authorities about their willingness to testify and telling them to not go to court so his case would be dismissed.

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputies conduct stings and have been conducting reverse stings since 2007 that routinely target and arrest sex buyers.  The FBI and local law enforcement agencies conducted Operation Cross Country VI in June 2012. The operation targets child prostitution and is coordinated by the Innocence Lost Initiative. The operation is a partnership between law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Sacramento efforts, with six arrests and six victims recovered, accounted for nearly 8 percent of the victims rescued during the national Operation Cross Country VI.  Since the first operation in June 2008, multi-agency teams in the Sacramento Division area have recovered 23 children and arrested 18 pimps.

In May 2018, twelve men were arrested in a multiagency reverse sting in south  Sacramento County. The operation was carried out by a regional coalition called Sacramento Together, which includes the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, and the Rancho Cordova and Sacramento police departments.  Of the arrests, 9 suspects were detained on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute and one person was held for supervising or aiding a prostitute. The remaining two arrests were related to outstanding warrants.  Victim advocates with Community Against Sexual Harm, a women’s support group, and the Sacramento County district attorney also offered services to women in the area prior to the sting.   In November 2020 the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office released results of a coordinated sting operation aimed at reducing human trafficking in the area. “Operation: Hot Spots” was aimed at targeting sex buyers, the demand side of human trafficking. The 2020 crackdown happened between September and mid-November, 2020, and resulted in 46 total arrests for soliciting for prostitution and human trafficking, more than twice as many arrests as during the prior year.

In April 2023, it was announced that three girls were rescued and over 100 people were arrested in a Sacramento County law enforcement human trafficking and childhood prostitution operation. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said the countywide investigation ended with “95 misdemeanor citations, 7 felony arrests, 31 sex buyers cited, 65 prostituting persons cited, and 3 sex traffickers arrested in seven days.” Sacramento Sheriff Jim Cooper said that those numbers are due to state legislation making it easier for minors to become sex trafficking victims and harder for law enforcement to “engage with under-aged sex workers to the point where rescue intervention is restricted.” While existing California law makes it illegal to “solicit or engage in any act of prostitution,” California Senate Bill 1322, passed in 2016, made it so this was not applicable to minors under 18-years-old. “How do you rescue a minor that’s being human trafficked if you can’t detain them, you can’t interview them, to save them from a pimp?” said Cooper. Officials also reportedly cited 2020’s SB 203, which requires minors to speak with an attorney prior to being interrogated or waiving their Miranda Rights, and 2022’s SB 357, which removed existing rules on loitering in regards to prostitution, as reasons the numbers of persons involved in sex trafficking of minors are are so high. “Law enforcement can no longer solely use their expertise in identifying prostitutes through behaviors, even to make detentions of reasonable suspicion,” said the sheriff’s office in a press release.

People convicted of soliciting prostitution or agreeing to engage in prostitution acts can face up to 180 days in jail and ordered to stay away from “stroll” areas, or known prostitution hot spots (i.e., SOAP Orders).

A local law enforcement respondent to the 2022 National Assessment Survey reported that since 2020, the county has ordered community service and participation in a “john school” education program for arrested sex buyers.

Key Partners

  • Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office
  • Sacramento County District Attorney’s Off
  • Sacramento Police Department
  • West Sacramento Police Department
  • Redding Police Department
  • FBI
  • Community Against Sexual Harm
  • Sacramento Together coalition
    • Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department
    • Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office
    • Rancho Cordova Police Department
    • Sacramento Police Department

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey and Interview (2012)

National Assessment Survey (2022)

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:


  • “Three Area Police Agencies Team Up to Battle Prostitution”, Sacramento Bee, January 20 1996.

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

  • “Get Tough on Racy Ads, Detective Asks Yellow Pages”, Sacramento Bee, March 4 1990.
  • “Undercover Deputies Smash Prostitution Ring; 2 Arrested”, Sacramento Bee, March 11 1997.
  • “County Targets Absent Owners; Proposals Focus on Blighted Property”, Sacramento Bee, September 2 1997.
  • “Fines for Landlords Have Reduced Crimes, Officials Say”, Sacramento Bee, December 2 1998.
  • “County Targets Tanning Centers; A Special Investigation Unit Cites Six Businesses with Prostitution”, Sacramento Bee, June 27 2002.
  • “Crime Declines as Arden Cleans Up; Sheriff’s Department Officials Say Assigning Officers to Work in Certain Neighborhoods Help Offenses Drop”, Sacramento Bee, March 27 2003.
  • “Alleged Brothels Ordered to Close; The Sheriff’s Department Is Cracking Down on Prostitution Rings Masquerading as Spas”, Sacramento Bee, February 12 2004.
  • “County Targets Illicit Sex Trade; A Proposed Ordinance Would Fight Prostitution Houses that Pose as Massage Businesses”, Sacramento Bee, January 27 2005.
  • “Prostitution Sting Nets Arrest and Meat Cleaver”, Sacramento Bee, November 15 2007.
State California
Type County
Population 1589000
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