San Benito 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

San Benito County is located in the Coast Range Mountains of California, and has a  population of roughly 67,000.  The county seat is the city Hollister. Prostitution activity has been well-documented throughout the county.  For example, in 2008, police reported that Hollister had seen gang violence resulting from a turf battle between rival factions of the Norteño street gang over control of illegal drug sales in the city.  They said that two factions of the Norteño street gang, the Barrio Hollister Turf (or BHT) and the Westside, were likely fighting for control of the streets.  In addition to drugs and car theft, Norteño gang members also allegedly profited from a host of other crimes, including prostitution and burglaries.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. The arrest of sex buyers and those paying to sexually abuse children, and the public disclosure of their identities, have occurred in the county.  For example, in 2008, three suspected victims and four other witnesses in front of a grand jury that in December 2007 indicted a former sheriff’s deputy of three counts of forcible rape, two counts of unlawful sexual penetration in Hollister.  The victims described allegations that the man used manipulation, humiliation and violence to force them to perform sexual acts against their will, and a former coworker alleged that the man had attempted to rape a prostitute he had procured and brought to his hotel room.  The coworker was a reserve sheriff’s deputy with the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office and worked with the defendant at the sheriff’s department for 15 years. He was subpoenaed to testify about an experience he had with the defendant during a work-related trip in 2004, in which the defendant brought a prostituted woman back to their hotel room and attempted to rape her.

In May, 2013,  a teacher at a Middle School in Hollister was arrested was charged with committing lewd and lascivious acts on a child, and unlawful sex with a minor.  In September, 2018, the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of two wanted felons in the Ridgemark community, including one on parole for sex trafficking of minors. The man’s identity was included in news reports.

Key Partners

  • San Benito County Sheriff’s Office
  • Hollister Police Department
State California
Type County
Population 66677
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