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77 arrested in human trafficking operation
• ‘Operation Reclaim and Rebuild’
Raid on massage parlor
Law enforcement officers raided a number of massage parlors in the county to crack down on human trafficking and free victims caught in the sex trade. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

A six-day operation staged by the Stanislaus Taskforce Against Human Trafficking resulted in the arrests of 77 men and women on a variety of misdemeanor and felony charges, including prostitution, pimping and human trafficking.

As part of the statewide “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild,”

two sex trafficking victims were rescued, four illegally possessed guns were recovered, and $50,780 in cash was seized.

The operation focused on rescuing human trafficking victims by disrupting the supply-and-demand chain by identifying and arresting captors of vulnerable victims.

The operation was conducted from Jan. 21-27 in observance of “National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.” 

The first part of the operation included an investigation of one massage parlor in Ceres, one in Turlock and two in Modesto where arrests were made. Secondary locations were searched after evidence was recovered at the massage parlors. The second part focused on prostitution operations whereby multiple subjects were arrested, including two pimps.

Victims were offered resources through HAVEN, Without Permission, and District Attorney Victim Services.

The operation included multiple police agencies, including the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, Ceres, Turlock and Oakdale police departments, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, California Department of Parole, Stanislaus County District Attorney and Victim Advocates, HAVEN’s women’s center, and Without Permission, a nonprofit organization in Stanislaus County.

“An arrest for prostitution is not ultimately going to solve this problem,” said Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse. “Getting them out of that lifestyle and safe and somewhere into something else, that is the solution.”

A number of the victims were smuggled across the southern border and coerced into the sex trade by cartels who make money from their trade.

Those who are a victim of human trafficking or have any information related to crimes of human trafficking, can contact Stanislaus County Area Crime Stoppers by calling 1-866-60-CRIME. A free mobile app can also be downloaded at P3Tips.