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Woodland is a city in central California of approximately 59,000 residents. It is the county seat of Yolo County, CA, and the county is included in the Greater Sacramento metropolitan area and is located in the Sacramento Valley. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented problems within the city. Among the more serious crimes associated with the city’s commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in 2016 the Woodland Police Department arrested two men on suspicion of sex trafficking/pimping, pandering, and a parole violation during a sting operation designed to identify and rescue runaway juveniles who are often trafficked for sexual exploitation in addition to apprehending individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money. Two adult prostituted women arrived at the motel separately in response to prearranged sexual agreements that were made on social media pages, neither women were charged. In addition to the Woodland Police Department, the investigation involved a number of state and local law enforcement agencies such as, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, Davis Police Department, West Sacramento Police Department, Yolo Gang Task Force, Yolo County Sheriff’s Department, advocates from Empower Yolo, and human trafficking experts from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, and the Anaheim Police Department. In 2021, Woodland police created a video focused on educating the community about human trafficking. According to the video, labor trafficking is not as common in the city as commercial sex trafficking of juveniles. The most frequent way police see child sex trafficking occur is online.
In effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex in the city and surrounding area, web-based reverse sting have been conducted. For example, in October 2017, five male sex buyers were arrested and charged with solicitation of prostitution by the Woodland Police Department and Yolo County District Attorney’s Office. All of the men were arrested after responding to online ads placed by undercover detectives and arranging to meet to purchase sex. Each of the suspects was charged with penal code section 647(b) – solicitation of prostitution- a misdemeanor, and booked at the Yolo County Jail. Undercover officers had sent out the advertisement via a text message. The identities of the suspects were not made immediately available, and police did not reveal any details about the location of the sting in the event that future similar stings are conducted.
Police have also apprehended sex buyers and sex traffickers through alternative investigations. For example, in 1971, the Woodland Police Department conducted a four-month-long investigation into an alleged prostitution ring operating in the city. As a result of the investigation, three women were arrested and one man was arrested on sex trafficking/pimping and pandering charges. His name and age were included in reports by local media outlets.
Web-Based Reverse Sting:
- http://www.dailydemocrat.com/general-news/20171014/woodland-police-prostitution-sting-results-in-arrest-of-five-suspects (2017)
- http://www.davisvanguard.org/2017/10/monday-morning-thoughts-sting-really-help-stop-sex-trafficking/ (2017)
Sex Buyer Arrests:
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- Husband Faces Court in Prostitution Case (1953)
- Prostitution Rules – Girl testifies in Woodland Man’s Morals Case Trial (1972)
- Suit charges sex acts at 3 businesses (1983)
- https://www.dailydemocrat.com/2016/09/26/human-trafficking-sting-results-in-2-arrests/ (2016)
- http://www.dailydemocrat.com/article/NI/20160926/NEWS/160929858 (2016)
- https://www.dailydemocrat.com/2021/01/21/woodland-police-release-video-on-human-trafficking-in-the-city/ (2021)