A four-day undercover operation targeting sex buyers and traffickers led to the arrests of 144 men for solicitation of prostitution across San Diego County.
“Operation Century Week” was conducted by the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force between April 5 and April 8.
“When the men were contacted, they were surprised. They were worried about their families, their wives and their daughters. Some of these men travelled more than 40 minutes away just to facilitate the deal,” said Lt. Nancy Blanco, who lead the Narcotics & Human Trafficking Divison of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
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The operation played out at various locations throughout the county at all times of the day, according to Blanco.
The suspects had allegedly arranged deals through social media, unaware the person on the other side of the post was a female undercover detective.
“When we contact the suspects or males, we try to establish a rapport with them that not only are they putting themselves at risk, they’re putting their families at risk. It’s a financial issue, as well as a health issue,” said Blanco.
The task force tries to emphasize to the suspect their alleged crime is not victimless, Blanco said. The mission is not only to hold offenders accountable, but to also help educate and provide resources for victims.
“We’re giving the victims a voice by giving them resources and giving them maybe a way out of the life to a lifestyle that they didn’t even know existed," Blanco said.
The operation involved several agencies including the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, and officers from the Chula Vista, Escondido, and San Diego police departments.
The Human Trafficking Task Force asks you to call its hotline at (888) 373-7888, or text 233733, if you know someone who is a victim of trafficking or prostitution.