Salinas, 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

Salinas is a city of approximately 163,000 residents, located in southwest California’s Monterey County. Street prostitution has posed persistent and visible problems in the community for 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 human trafficking, and faced up to 12 years in prison for getting a runaway teen to engage in prostitution in the city’s “Chinatown” district. 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. In April, 2023, Salinas police arrested a man for attacking and cutting a woman with a machete. Police said the victim and her attacker were engaged in prostitution at the time of the attack.  After an altercation, the suspect went out to his car and grabbed a machete and attacked the victim. A report came in to police about a possible pedestrian hit by a car. While on the way to the scene, police said the call was upgraded to a stabbing victim. When they arrived at San Benito Street, investigators said they found the victim with several stab wounds. The victim was able to give a detailed description of the man’s car before being taken to a local hospital, and the man was arrested at his house on Soledad Street a few hours later. The man’s identity was included in news reports.

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 sex buyer’s 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 prostitution, and its sex buyers, pimps, and traffickers. 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

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Proposed Prostitution Exclusion Zone:

Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State California
Type City
Population 162791
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