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Ventura is a coastal California city located north of Los Angeles, near Oxnard, and has a population of roughly 110,000. The city is the cite of well documented problems with sex trafficking and prostitution. The city is also one of the locations in which a serial rapist and murderer specifically targeted women engaged in prostitution: the famous “Night Stalker” case resulting in at least 10 murders linked using DNA evidence, active from 1979 through the 1980s (the perpetrator has never been identified).
To combat persistent and longstanding problems with commercial sex and sex trafficking, the Ventura Police Department has conducted reverse stings periodically since at least 1989. For example, in 1998 the Ventura Police Department placed a woman undercover officer who loitered on a two block stretch of Thompson Boulevard. Within 35 minutes, they had arrested six males – ranging from a 16-year-old boy to a 77-year-old man – who had attempted to buy sex. The identities of arrestees have not typically been publicized. The city has the power to seize autos used in the commission of a crime, and they sometimes apply this sanction to arrested sex buyers.
In January, 2018, six people were arrested during a prostitution sting led by the Ventura Police Department and the Ventura County Human Trafficking Enforcement Team. The operation on January 26 consisted of detectives posting online advertisements on sites used for prostitution. Those who contacted the listed number and agreed to exchange money for sex were instructed by an undercover officer to arrive at a Ventura hotel, where they were taken into custody on suspicion of misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution. The sting was held in conjunction with the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force’s Operation Reclaim & Rebuild.
The city also has had a court mandated HIV/AIDS education program for those deemed in need of it – and those arrested for prostitution may be required to attend. We do not regard this to be a “john school” program since it is restricted to health education and is not specifically designed to address the issues of sex buyers.
- Ventura Police Department
- Ventura County Human Trafficking Enforcement Team
- Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force
Reverse Stings, Vehicle Seizure:
- Meat market correction: Police sting nabs johns in attempt to cut prostitution demand. http://www.vcreporter.com/cms/story/detail/?id=4656&IssueNum=124
- Court ordered HIV/AIDS education: http://www.vchca.org/public-health/hiv-aids-center/court-ordered-aids-education
- The Press-Courier, April 6, 1989. Solicitation Arrests Made During Sting.
- The Los Angeles Times, July 21, 1989. Prostitution Sting Results in 6 Arrests. Page B-2.
Web Based Reverse Stings:
Background on Sex Trafficking and Prostitution in the Area:
- http://www.toacorn.com/Human_trafficking_at_home_in_Ventura_County (2012)
- http://www.vcstar.com/ventura-police-continue-to-investigate-of/ (2012)
- http://www.vcstar.com/ventura-aims-to-weed-out-illicit-massage-parlors/ (2013)
- https://abc7.com/sex-trafficking-prostitution-human-massage-parlors (2021)
- https://kesq.com/10-arrests-human-trafficking-operation-helps-six-victims/ (2022)