We now know why residents were reporting 20-30 sex workers lining 24th Street on social media last week.
Richmond Police officers were conducting a human trafficking operation in collaboration with local and federal agencies as well as victim advocates, according to Richmond Assistant Police Chief Tim Simmons.
“This collaboration was conducted as a part of Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, a multi-agency statewide initiative that focuses on rescuing victims of sexual slavery and human trafficking as well as identifying and arresting perpetrators,” Simmons wrote.
Police made three arrests, issued four citations for solicitation of sex, and rescued six victims during the January 26 operation.
The operation was part of a regional effort to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation through targeted enforcement, said California Attorney General Rob Bonta in a statement.
The operation depended on a combination of monitoring known locations and deploying undercover officers in collaboration with local, state, and federal agencies during National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
In January, the Richmond City Council recognized Human Trafficking Prevention Month with a proclamation to acknowledge people affected and bring awareness to the issue.
Statewide, 29 people were arrested for alleged human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and other criminal offenses. The arrests were referred to local district attorney’s offices for prosecution.
“Our office is committed to working every day and dedicating every month of the year to providing human trafficking victims services and apprehending and arresting their traffickers,” Bonta said. “Through Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, we’re fighting to hold perpetrators accountable and help survivors get a fresh start.”
Law enforcement went after sex buyers, according to the Attorney General’s Office, by posing as individuals offering sex for sale.
Locally, some speculated on social media that a brothel had been set up on Lincoln Avenue.
“Sex buyers were then generally directed to an alternate location and arrested. Among other alleged violations, arrests during the operation ranged from human trafficking of a minor to intent to commit lewd acts with a child. All of the potential victims and survivors were offered access to resources and supportive services,” the statement said.
If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 to access help and services. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 911.
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