LOS ANGELES (KTLA/CNN) - Authorities involved in a 3-day human trafficking sting operation rescued almost 50 victims across California, including 14 minors, some as young as 13.
Law enforcement officials with “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild” announced Tuesday they made 339 arrests in the 3-day operation, which involved 93 human trafficking task forces throughout the state.
Those arrested had been soliciting sex from underage teenagers or were pimps who put victims up for sale, according to officials.
"Don’t do business in Los Angeles County or the state of California because we will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law," said L.A. County Sheriff's Assistant Chief Maria Gutierrez during the news conference.
Among those rescued were runaways or homeless young women, while others were lured by traffickers through social media and online chat sites.
Gutierrez detailed some of the more “dramatic stories” of rescues and arrests:
A 30-year-old suspect was arrested within 24 hours of authorities finding multiple videos where the man was seen sexually assaulting a 6-year-old child.
Two teenagers forced to work in prostitution were returned home when officials arrested a suspect in the case. The girls, ages 17 and 14, had been threatened with violence after the older one was lured by a man she met online, believing she was going to have a relationship with him.
A 54-year-old man was taken into custody after allegedly sending photos of $100 bills to a 15-year-old boy he was trying to “groom and entice” into meeting him at a park for sex. The teen was an undercover decoy and was among the officers who arrested the suspect when he arrived at the park.
The 3-day statewide sting took place during January, as it’s officially recognized by the federal government as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline says 8,524 cases of human trafficking were reported nationwide in 2017. Of those, 1,305 were in California.