Shasta 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

Shasta County is a county in northern California, and is situated along the Interstate 5 corridor. The county’s population is about 180,000, and its largest city (pop. of about 92,000) and government seat is Redding. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the communities and unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes (including the production of child sexual abuse materials – or CSAM – which is often referred to as “child pornography in state laws) it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses.  The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office and the Police Departments of Redding, Anderson, and other communities have responded and sex trafficking and prostitution have been confirmed by investigations and undercover stings.  Among the more serious problems associated with commercial sex in the area include child sex trafficking, and county’s location is a major factor in drawing sex traffickers to the area. Its position along the North/South Interstate 5 corridor, and proximity to Sacramento and Reno, makes it a logical stop on routes that pimps routinely travel. One victim was a 14-year-old girl who confirmed that she had been forced into prostitution on a circuit that included Redding, CA, Reno, NV, then Sacramento, CA, and advertising the child for sex trafficking online using Backpage. In May 2014 Redding police arrested two people for kidnapping a 16-year-old girl in Sacramento, and held the girl against her will at two Redding homes, forcing her into prostitution. The minor was eventually able to escape, flagging down people who lived on the 1900 block of Hartnell Avenue. Police said the girl was held against her will for about a month in Redding, and threatened if she tried to escape. In August, 2022, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office announced that an identified pimp was wanted in connection with a multi-agency human trafficking operation. The Sheriff’s Office had hosted a multi-agency human trafficking operation targeting illegal sex trade in cooperation with a larger national effort to target sex trafficking called Operation Cross Country. During the local operation, agencies used known prostitution websites to solicit commercial sex acts from providers likely controlled by what the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office called a pimp or trafficker. According to the County Sheriff, the operation set up prearranged services at a Redding hotel where several females arrived for prostitution and were subsequently detained. All female providers were offered victim services before being released on the scene. During the investigation, a man from Redding was identified by the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office as pimping one of the female providers, and a felony arrest warrant for pimping in violation of 266(H) PC was obtained for Augustus, along with a $100,000 bail.

To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking. For example, in August, 2018 the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with the Anderson Police Department’s Problem Oriented Policing Team, and arrested two men for solicitation of prostitution at a local motel. The investigation began when one man went to a local spa for a massage, and offered to pay for sexual services. The massage therapist declined to perform, and after continued pressure told the man to leave the establishment and reported the incident to police. An Anderson Police Officer responded to the business and took a report, and then contacted the suspect in an undercover capacity and inquired if he was still seeking sexual services. The man indicated he was, and agreed to meet the undercover officer. During the negotiations of price and services, the suspect inquired as to the price for two customers, a price was agreed upon, and a meeting was arranged at a local motel. The suspect and another man arrived at the predetermined motel, and were arrested for solicitation of prostitution and loitering for the purposes of prostitution. Both subjects were booked into the Shasta County Jail.

In September, 2018 a web-based reverse sting was conducted in which undercover officers posed as 15 and 16-year-old girls who were advertised online.  Men who responded and agreed to meet at an Anderson motel to exchange money for sex with the children were arrested.  On one day, seven men were arrested, some of whom had traveled from the cities of Redding, Shasta Lake, and Shingletown, as well as one 48-year-old suspect who traveled more than a hundred miles from Yuba City to Anderson to buy sex with a teenage girl. During the sting, officers created ads on several websites frequently used in for prostitution and sex trafficking, posing as a “young female prostitute.” When prospective customers began communicating with the undercover officers the officials identified themselves as a 15 or 16-year-old girl.  While this caused many of the people who contacted the undercover to back out of the negotiations, there was five who continued talking, negotiated a specific price for sex, agreed to meet at a local motel to engage in sex, traveled from their homes to an Anderson motel, and then took clear steps indicating an intend to engage in pre-negotiated sex acts.  Four of the five suspects also agreed to bring alcohol for the underage female, and one suspect requested nude photographs from the person he believed was a juvenile, leading to an additional charge of persuading a minor to produce “child pornography.” The photos, names, ages, and town of residence for all five of the arrested men were posted by police.  Members of Anderson Police Department’s Problem Oriented Policing Unit and Redding Police Department’s Neighborhood Policing Unit collaborated on the undercover operation, “targeting would-be predators seeking sex with underage females,” APD explained in a social media release. The Shasta County Probation Department, Jail Division, and Shasta County District Attorney’s office assisted during the operation.

In March, 2023, a web-based reverse sting produced the arrest of sex sex buyers.  According to authorities, more than 60 people solicited sex from the posted advertisements over the course of 24 hours. Of those 60 people, six were arrested as a result of the multi-agency operation. The remainder of the people who solicited sex did not make appointments and were not contacted by undercover detectives. The identities of the arrested men were publicly disclosed.

Key Partners

  • Shasta County Sheriff’s Office
  • Shasta County District Attorney’s Office
  • Anderson Police Department
    • Problem Oriented Policing Unit
  • Redding Police Department
    • Neighborhood Policing Unit
  • Shasta County Probation Department
  • Tehama County Sheriff’s Office
  • Northern California Anti-Trafficking Coalition

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:

State California
Type County
Population 179276
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