Salinas, CA

Tactics Used

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

Salinas is a city of approximately 156,000 residents, located in southwest California’s Monterey County. Street prostitution has posed persistent and visible problems in the community for several decades, and has generated numerous complaints from local residents and business owners. Cases of sex trafficking, and prostitution-related assault, robbery and attempted homicide have also been documented locally. For example, in January 2019 a Salinas woman was convicted by a jury of of human trafficking, and faced up to 12 years in prison for getting a runaway teen to engage in prostitution in Chinatown. The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office had alleged that the defendant had let the 16-year-old victim stay in her tent, and then pressured her to engage in prostitution.

The Salinas Police Department has conducted stings targeting sex buyers since at least 2006, if not earlier. That year, SPD officers launched two street-level reversals using female undercover officers as decoys. Following their arrests, the johns’ identities were publicized in press. More recent examples include a reverse sting in September, 2018, in which 13 men were arrested and cited.  Salinas Police Department’s Violence Suppression Unit teamed up with Homeland Security and US Marshalls to conduct the sting in the area of Kern Street. Salinas Police said citizens in the area were complaining of increased traffic, debris and prostitutes in their neighborhood. The identities of the men arrested were included in news reports.

In the mid-2000s, city business owners proposed the idea of establishing a prostitution-exclusion zone in a “high-stroll” neighborhood, in an effort to drive out sex sellers, buyers and procurers. Though the proposal was drafted and discussed by city officials, ultimately it was not adopted.

Key Partners

  • Salinas Police Department
  • Monterey County District Attorney’s Office
  • Community groups

Key Sources

State California
Type City
Population 155662
Location
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