Eight people were arrested last week during a five-day undercover sting operation targeting San Diego-area prostitution crimes, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Monday.
During the countywide crackdown by the multi-agency San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force, which concluded Friday, law enforcement personnel worked undercover, posing as customers of illegal sex services by responding to illicit online advertisements.
"We all deserve to have a safe place to call home during the holidays -- and throughout the entire year," Bonta said. "Operation Home for the Holidays is about holding traffickers accountable and helping people extricate themselves from potentially dangerous situations."
Along with making the arrests for alleged pimping, pandering and other offenses, officers seized two ghost guns and offered services to 26 potential victims of human trafficking, according to the Attorney General's Office.
The suspects' names were not released.
As part of the effort, Child Welfare Services personnel were on scene, and juvenile advocates were on standby to provide assistance in the event that undercover personnel encountered any underage victims.
All the women who met with the undercover authorities were offered access to resources and supportive services, Bonta said.
According to the FBI, three of the top child-prostitution regions nationwide are in the Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco metropolitan areas.
The task force is made up of officers with the state Department of Justice, the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the California Highway Patrol, San Diego Police Department, National City Police Department, San Diego City Attorney's Office, and the San Diego County District Attorney's Office, Sheriff's Department and Probation Department.
Click here to watch the full "STOLEN," NBC 7 Investigates' seven-part documentary series on child sex trafficking in San Diego County and beyond.
- If you or someone you know could be a victim of sex trafficking or exploitation, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text the words "BeFree" or 233733