Stanislaus County is located in the Central Valley area of California, and has approximately 550,000 residents. Prostitution has been a formidable problem in the area for decades, with recent activities concentrated in the city of Modesto, Turlock, and surrounding towns and unincorporated areas. Child sex trafficking is also well documented within the county. Commercial sex sales are said to reach a pinnacle during the region’s harvest season. To address the issue, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD) has incorporated the use of several demand-driven tactics to identify and apprehend sex buyers. In their efforts, the SCSD routinely conduct street-level reverse stings, at times collaborating with officers from Modesto Police Department. Operations typically utilize undercover female officers, who pose as decoys. In January 2011, a single sting resulted in the arrest of 26 johns in just over 10 hours at a South Modesto hotel. As a warning to other would-be sex buyers, the SCPD released the men’s names and photos to the local media.
In May 2018, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputies made 11 arrests in Turlock in a planned operation targeting online human trafficking. The arrests were made over several hours from Friday evening to about 3 a.m. Saturday at a motel on Walnut Road in Turlock. Sheriff’s investigators in Patterson had learned of a social media platform being used for human trafficking. They used the site to set up meetings at the motel and made a series of arrests over one night. The 11 men and women were arrested on charges of prostitution and solicitation, pimping, and a variety of warrants and drug charges. The operation was led by deputies in Patterson with assists from deputies in Waterford as well as officers from the Turlock Police Department.
The local Stanislaus County portion of the 2019 edition of the annual statewide “Operation Rebuild and Reclaim” resulted in the arrests of 33 individuals over a three-day period. The operation was conducted at motels in Modesto, Westley, and Turlock. From Thursday through Saturday, law enforcement officer contacted various websites commonly used for the purposes of prostitution and set up meetings. The identities of the arrested sex buyers were disclosed in news releases. Agencies participating in the operation were: Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, Turlock Police Department, Patterson Police Services, Riverbank Police Services, Waterford Police Services, Stanislaus Probation Department, Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office and Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus.
In Stanislaus County, Operation Reclaim & Rebuild for 2021 was conducted Jan. 28 and Jan. 29. The Turlock Police Department took part in the operation Rebuild and Reclaim that resulted in 13 of the 64 arrests for human trafficking and other offenses within the county. One arrest was of a man who solicited an undercover officer who was posing as an underage female for sexual acts. Other local agencies that participated were Patterson Police Services, Waterford Police Services, State Parole, Stanislaus County Probation, CSU Stanislaus Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Los Banos Police Department, Oakdale Police Department, Tracy Police Department, Stanislaus District Attorney’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, Newman Police Department, Women’s Haven and Stanislaus County Adult Detention Deputies. Over sixty members from these agencies and departments worked together to combat Human Trafficking within Stanislaus County.
- Reverse stings, shaming:
- “Deputies Sting 23 People in Prostitution Operation”, The Modesto Bee, July 4 1987.
- “35 ‘Johns’ Arrested”, The Modesto Bee, February 24 1989.
- “Joint Undercover Prostitution Sting”, Press Release. City of Modesto Police Department. March 13 2003.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 26 Arrests”, Press Release. Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office. January 10 2011.
- “Stanislaus County Drops Prostitution Charge Against Man Caught in ‘John’ Sting”, The Modesto Bee, July 12 2011.
- http://www.modbee.com/latest-news/article211529869.html (2018)
- https://www.turlockjournal.com/news/crime/human-trafficking-sting-nets-33-arrests/ (2019)
- https://www.modbee.com/news/local/crime/article225240040.html (2019)
- https://www.riversidesheriff.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=2051 (2021)
- https://www.turlockjournal.com/news/crime/human-trafficking-bust-nets-64-arrests/ (2021)
- Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- “Nights on Ninth Street”, The Modesto Bee, January 6 2008.
- “Police Find Underage Prostitutes Online, Try to Lead Them From Life”, The Modesto Bee, May 29 2008.
- “Stanislaus Deputy: Suspected Prostitute Badly Beaten by Customer”, The Modesto Bee, January 22 2011.
- “Evidence of Sex Slavery in Stanislaus County Calls for Action”, The Modesto Bee, April 14 2012.
- “Stanislaus County’s Financial Picture is Looking Slightly Better”, The Modesto Bee, May 29 2012.
- http://www.turlockcitynews.com/news/item/735-turlock-massage-parlors-inspected-after-prostitution-tip (2013)
- http://www.kcra.com/article/ceres-pd-3-teens-arrested-after-prostitution-ring-sting (2017)
- http://www.modbee.com/news/Stockton man charged with trafficking 16-year-old Ceres girl (2017)
- http://www.modbee.com/news/local/Turlock massage parlor worker arrested suspicion prostitution (2017)