Tulare County is a county located in California’s Central Valley, with a population of roughly 426,000. Cases of prostitution and sex trafficking, including the forced prostitution of minors, have been documented in the county.
In addition to city-level efforts in Tulare and Visalia, local law enforcement have initiated a demand-reduction investigations at the county level. In June 2010, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department and Visalia Police Department conducted a web-based sting targeting both buyers and sellers of sex. Undercover officers placed and responded to online advertisements suggesting prostitution, and arranged to meet the men and women who responded at an undisclosed location. Seven johns were arrested as a result; the identities of all of the individuals arrested during the operation were released to the public.
In August 2018, Tulare County Sheriff’s detectives initiated a sting named Operation Red Rose after receiving ongoing information about men soliciting underage female prostitutes for sex through websites. During this sting, detectives with the Sheriff’s Human Trafficking/Crimes Against Children Unit created fictitious escort advertisements on known prostitution websites to lure adult men into meeting with an underage female decoy for sex. Detectives posted online decoy advertisements from a 15-year-old female and an 18-year-old female. Detectives said more than 1,100 text messages were exchanged between undercover detectives and men attempting to solicit underage girls and adult women for sex, and the undercover decoys communicated with nearly 50 men who negotiated prices for sex acts. Ultimately, Sheriff’s detectives arranged to meet and then arrested five Central Valley men for soliciting an adult decoy. Anyone with information about human trafficking is encouraged to contact the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at 733-6218, or anonymously through the TipNow Program at 725-4194 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Video of Operation Red Rose is available on the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TulareSheriff/.
In November, 2020 two multi-agency stings (including the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, and Visalia PD) led to the arrest of 13 men who were booked and released on the misdemeanor charge that typically carries a small fine and community service hours. Visalia and Tulare officers conducted a sting operation targeting men who illegally pay for sex. Police did not release details on how they lured the suspects. Police said the operation was conducted because prostitution is believed to be a “main thoroughfare for human trafficking,” particularly in the San Joaquin Valley.
- Tulare County Sheriff’s Department
- Visalia Police Department
Reverse Stings and Shaming, Community Service:
Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, Visalia Police Department Arrest 13 People on Prostitution Charges,” Tulare Advance-Register, June 14 2010.
- “Two Porterville Residents among 13 Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Porterville Recorder, June 15 2010.
- https://hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/crime/tulare-deputies-conduct-prostitution-sting-arrest-five-men (2018)
- https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/california-law-enforcement-rescue-48-victims-human-trafficking (2019)
- https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/2020/11/23/seven-more-tulare-county-johns-busted-sting-operation/ (2020)
- https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/6-johns-busted-multi-agency-human-trafficking-sting-visalia/ (2020)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
Background on Prostitution in the Area: