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.
- Salinas Police Department
- Monterey County District Attorney’s Office
- Community groups
- Street-Level Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- Proposed Prostitution Exclusion Zone:
- “Salinas Group Wants a Safer Chinatown,” Monterey County Herald, September 20 2006.
- “Prostitution Free Zone; Salinas Business Organization Looks to Drive Pimps and Hoes out of Town,” Monterey County Weekly, October 26 2006.
- “No-Hooker Corner,” Monterey County Weekly, November 16 2006.
- “Law to Curb Prostitution Presents Legal Issues, Enforcement Seen as Costly for Salinas,” Monterey County Herald, January 16 2007.
- “Officials Must Address Prostitution Problem,” Monterey County Herald, January 21 2007.
- “Your Town; Salinas; Council Rejects No-Prostitution Zone,” Monterey County Herald, May 2 2007.
- Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- “Police Really Can’t Enter This Evidence; Pandering Suspect Won’t Unlock His ‘Office,'” San Jose Mercury News, December 20 1988.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Five Arrests,” Monterey County Herald, August 25 2004.
- “Community Wants Prostitutes to Go Away,” Monterey County Herald, June 12 2010.
- “Residents Take Back the Streets,” Monterey County Herald, June 13 2010.
- “Prostitution Sting Nabs Six in Salinas,” Monterey County Herald, June 29 2010.
- “Two Women Face Charges of Loitering,” Monterey County Herald, August 10 2010.
- “Tricks of the Trade,” Monterey County Weekly, July 21 2011.
- “Police Briefs; Salinas; Prostitution Sting Nets 11,” Monterey County Herald, November 4 2012.
- “8 Arrested in Salinas Prostitution Sting,” Monterey County Herald, December 30 2012.
- “Oldest Profession,” Monterey County Weekly, May 16 2013.
- “Oldest Profession; Authorities Say a Lack of Resources Allows Prostitution to Flourish in Salinas,” Monterey County Weekly, May 16 2013.
- https://www.thecalifornian.com/story/news/2019/01/14/da-woman-faces-12-years-human-trafficking-chinatown (2019)
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Woman, 2 Men Held in Attempted Slaying,” San Jose Mercury News, November 15 1992.
- “Prostitute, Transvestite Assaulted,” Monterey County Herald, May 3 2004.
- “Woman Robbed, Kicked out of SUV, Jailed,” Salinas Valley Adviser, November 7 2006.