Tulare 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

Tulare County is a county located in California’s Central Valley, with a population of roughly 478,000. Cases of prostitution and sex trafficking, including the forced prostitution of minors, have been documented in the county.  For example, in July, 2021, three women sold as sex slaves were rescued by local law enforcement during a human trafficking operation. The women were found by Tulare County Sheriff’s Office deputies during an investigation into human sex trafficking on July 23 in the Visalia area. The victims were offered to have Family Services respond immediately to assist them, and were offered counseling and housing. If they decline services, TCSO provides the victims’ names and contact information to Family Services for follow up.

In addition to city-level efforts in Tulare and Visalia, local law enforcement agencies have conducted 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 of sex and those being sold. 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 male sex buyers 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 information about men soliciting underage female survivors of sex trafficking 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 paid sexual abuse. 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 sexual abuse, and the undercover decoys communicated with nearly 50 men who negotiated prices. Ultimately, Sheriff’s detectives arranged to meet and then arrested five Central Valley men for soliciting an adult decoy. 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.  In July, 2021, additional sex buyers were arrested in a web-based sting focusing on sex trafficking.

In July, 2021, at least 10 men were arrested who had paid for sex during an undercover anti-human sex trafficking operation. The operation was was led by the Sheriff’s Human Trafficking Unit, along with members of the Visalia Police Department and the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office assigned to the Tulare County Human Trafficking Task Force. the identities of the sex buyers were released to news outlets.

In December, 2022, the Visalia and Tulare Police Departments, with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office and ATF, conducted an enforcement detail regarding human trafficking and prostitution. Over the course of the two-day investigation, officers arrested four men for solicitation of prostitution. One of the men was also arrested for possession of a controlled substance and several outstanding warrants. All suspects were booked into a detention facility while they awaited trial.

Key Partners

  • Tulare County Sheriff’s Department
  • Visalia Police Department

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure, Community Service:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State California
Type County
Population 477454
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