Tuolumne 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

The County of Tuolumne is a county of about 54,000 residents in eastern California, located in the Stanislaus National Forest on the border with Yosemite National Park. The county seat and only incorporated city is Sonora. Prostitution and the ancillary crimes it generates have been longstanding problems in the county for decades, resulting in complaints to law enforcement. Prostitution was practiced somewhat openly from Sonora’s founding until the 1950s, when the federal government instructed the city to clean up the town. The first instance of the city trying to control prostitution occurred in August 1853, when the City Trustees passed Ordinance Number 12, which required “all houses of ill-fame…[to] keep their front doors closed, or have good and sufficient blinds or screens in front thereof, to hide anything transpiring within from the view of persons passing on the street” or they would be subject to fines. More recently, in March 2018, ten people were arrested on drug charges at a strip club in the county after an investigation into drugs and prostitution on the premises. The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office said they had received almost 200 calls for service at the club over the last five years, including a rape reported in November 2017 and a 2015 stabbing of one dancer in the leg. Sexual assaults, thefts, and code violations had also been reported.

At least one sex buyer has been arrested in the county as a result of an alternative investigation and not a proactive sting to catch sex buyers. In February 2021, the Tuolumne County High-Risk Supervision Team (HRST), which consists of Sheriff’s Deputies and Probation Officers, arrested a sex buyer who was using Snapchat to trade sex acts and explicit photos for drugs. The investigation began when HRST followed up on a tip of suspicious behavior involving the Sonora man. HRST searched the man’s home, vehicle, and storage unit and found over 14 pounds of marijuana and other drugs and paraphernalia. With assistance from the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s School Resource Officer, the investigation also uncovered that the man used Snapchat to send and receive sexually explicit images and videos with minors in exchange for marijuana products, as well as engaged in sex acts with minors in exchange for drugs. The man sold drugs to more than 100 local minors ranging from children in 8th grade through high school. He was charged with possession of a narcotic for sale, selling marijuana to a minor, possession of child pornography (i.e., child sexual abuse materials), and commission of sexual acts with a minor. His identity was released to the press.

Key Partners

  • Tuolumne County High-Risk Supervision Team (HRST)
  • Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office
  • Tuolumne County Probation Office


Key Sources

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State California
Type County
Population 54147
Comments are closed.