San Rafael is a city of approximately 58,000 residents, located in the North Bay Area of Marin County, California. Like nearby Richmond and Vallejo, the city has a longstanding and well-documented problem with street prostitution, often involving minors. Since 1995, local law enforcement and members of the media have reported at least 13 cases of domestic minor sex trafficking in the city, affecting victims as young as 13 years of age.
While residents of San Rafael have been quite vocal about their disdain for such activities, much of their requests and suggestions to law enforcement appear to targeted sex sellers (e.g., recruiting local Lions Club members to “pose as clients,” photograph and tape record women offering acts of prostitution) or prostitution in general (e.g., shutting down adult-oriented businesses).
By contrast, the San Rafael Police Department has targeted both sex sellers and buyers since at least the late 1970s. In January 1978, SRPD officers conducted one of its earliest street-level reverse stings, resulting in the arrest of 26 johns. When asked about the operation, the SRPD alluded to their dual strategy (as well as the larger supply/demand relationship), stating that they chose to target johns in an effort “to discourage female prostitutes from flagrantly soliciting customers in the streets.” Since that time, San Rafael Police have conducted frequent, small to mid-scale street reversals using undercover female officers as decoys. Operations frequently target the Canal Area. Arrestees’ mugshots and other identifying information are often released to the public.
In addition, the SRPD has participated in several nationwide law enforcement operations to rescue sexually exploited children and capture pimps, traffickers, and individuals attempting to purchase sex from minors. For example, in June 2012, officers collaborated with the FBI, neighboring law enforcement agencies and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on Operation Cross Country VI, a nationwide crackdown on child prostitution. During the three-day operation, at least one underage female prostitute was recovered in San Rafael.
In June, 2017 a team of investigators in Marin arrested five men in a sting targeting child prostitution. The sting was part of Operation Cross Country, an annual nationwide crackdown on juvenile sex trafficking. The San Rafael Police Department, the Novato Police Department and the Marin County Sheriff’s Office participated in the local operation. Investigators placed ads on the internet offering children for paid sex and arrested the suspects when they showed up for the meeting at a San Rafael hotel. The men were booked into Marin County Jail and released on bail pending further review by county prosecutors. Police identified the suspects in news releases. During the operation, investigators also contacted a Fresno woman they suspected to be a victim of forced prostitution. She accepted services and emergency shelter.
- San Rafael Police Department
- Marin County Sheriff’s Office
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
- Street-Level and Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “National Notes of Interest; San Rafael”, Spartanburg Herald-Journal, January 18 1978.
- “6 Men Arrested in Canal Prostitution Sting”, San Jose Mercury News, October 21 2007.
- “Prostitution Sting Leads to Five Arrests”, San Rafael Patch, August 14 2010.
- “Five San Rafael Men, Novato Man Cited in Prostitution Sting”, San Jose Mercury News, September 10 2012.
- “SRPD Alert: Six Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Press Release, San Rafael Police Department, September 12 2012.
- “Five Men Nabbed in San Rafael Prostitution Sting”, San Rafael Patch, August 17 2013.
- “Marin Prostitution Crackdown Snags 16 Men in San Rafael, Novato,” Marin Independent Journal, October 18 2015.
- “Alleged ‘Johns’ Named in San Rafael Prostitution Operation,” San Anselmo-Fairfax Patch, January 25 2016.
- https://www.marinij.com/san-rafael-child-sex-sting-snags-5-suspects/ 2017)
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Man, 18, Arrested in Kidnap-Robbery Case”, San Jose Mercury News, August 23 1995.
- “The Youngest Profession”, Marin Independent Journal, November 23 2003.
- “Man Gets 45 Days in Teen Sex Case”, Marin Independent Journal, November 20 2004.
- “Woman Said to Be Pimping Underage Girls”, Marin Independent Journal, October 5 2005.
- “Woman Sentenced for Pimping Girls in San Rafael”, Marin Independent Journal, July 18 2006.
- “Man Charged with Pimping MySpace Acquaintance, 16, in San Rafael”, Marin Independent Journal, August 10 2007.
- “Feds Hit MySpace Pimp Suspect with Sex Trafficking Charge”, Marin Independent Journal, October 2 2007.
- “Web Predator Pleads Guilty to Pimping Girl”, Marin Independent Journal, April 15 2008.
- “Pimp Suspected Arrested in San Rafael”, Marin Independent Journal, May 24 2008.
- “Man Gets 11 Years for Pimping Runaway in San Rafael”, Marin Independent Journal, June 18 2008.
- “Prostitute, 18, Helps San Rafael Police Arrest Pimp Suspect”, San Jose Mercury News, June 30 2008.
- “Nationwide Prostitution Sting Nets 3 in San Rafael”, Marin Independent Journal, October 28 2008.
- “San Rafael Pimping Case Put on Hold”, Marin Independent Journal, November 22 2008.
- “Men Accused of Pimping Girl, 13, in San Rafael”, Marin Independent Journal, December 26 2008.
- “Man Sentenced for Sex with Girl Prostitute in San Rafael”, Marin Independent Journal, February 20 2010.
- “Richmond Woman Arrested for Pimping Teen Runaway”, FOX/KTVU-TV 2, August 17 2010.
- “Richmond Woman Arrested in Alleged Prostitution Case”, San Rafael Patch, August 18 2010.
- “Richmond Men Charged in San Rafael Slaying”, San Jose Mercury News, February 17 2011.
- “San Rafael Murder and Pimping Suspect Arraigned”, San Jose Mercury News, March 11 2011.
- “San Rafael Police Sting Nets Pimp Suspect, Teen Prostitute”, Marin Independent Journal, March 24 2011.
- “Seven Pimps Arrested in Calif. Makes 104 Total Arrests in Nationwide Prostitution Sting, Authorities Say”, CBS News, June 26 2012.
- “Teen Rescued, Pimp Arrested in Prostitution Sweep”, San Rafael Patch, June 26 2012.
- “SRPD Alert: Suspect Arrested in Child Luring”, Press Release, San Rafael Police Department, July 15 2012.
- “Oakland Woman Accused of Pimping Teen at San Rafael Hotel,” Contra Costa Times, December 3 2013.
- “Hayward Man Arrested for Alleged Human Trafficking in Marin,” Contra Costa Times, December 8 2014.
- “Alert Cop Rescues 16-Year-Old from Prostitution, Uncovers Sex Business after Routine Traffic Stop in Marin,” CBS/KPIX-TV 5, December 24 2014.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Lions Club Ready to Battle Prostitution in San Rafael”, St. Joseph News-Press, December 18 1977.
- “Prostitute Ring Kept Detailed Files”, Miami News, August 15 1986.
- “The State; 2 Crime Patrol Members Held”, Los Angeles Times, June 30 1989.
- “San Rafael Parolee Faces Multiple Charges”, Marin Independent Journal, October 19 2003.
- “San Rafael Prostitution Sting Tags 3 More Masseuses”, Marin Independent Journal, October 17 2007.
- “San Rafael Weighing Changes to Massage Ordinance”, Marin Independent Journal, October 17 2010.
- “San Rafael Business Owners with Sexual Massage Parlors, City to Start Enforcing Ordinance”, Marin Independent Journal, September 14 2013.
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: