The results of a three-day human trafficking sting across the state of California resulted in the arrest of 474 individuals, as well as the rescue of 55 human trafficking victims, including 28 child victims. The sting, dubbed Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, has been done for three consecutive years, with this year marking the largest operation to date.
Arrests were made for solicitation of prostitution, as well as pimping, and included both sex workers, pimps, and potential customers. Children and adult victims that were discovered were referred to social services and removed from their situations. California had the highest number of reported human trafficking victims last year with 1,323 cases in 2016.
What Is Human Trafficking?
While the most visible result of human trafficking generally involves sex workers, it also includes other kinds of forced labor as well. The manufacturing, mining and clothing industries tend to be the main non-sex related industries that are involved in human trafficking.
Basically, human trafficking boils down to the exploitation of a person through force, coercion, or fraud, for a financial benefit.
Digital Sting Operations
In addition to taking directly to the streets while undercover to pose as sex workers and "Johns," law enforcement went undercover online, as well, posing as juveniles in order to target and arrest pedophiles as part of this sting operation. Targeting the online component of the sex trade and human trafficking industry is nothing new and has been going on for years. Recently, the arrest of the backpage.com CEO highlighted that law enforcement was focusing on the online sale of sex.
Additionally, law enforcement is not just focusing on the obvious places that sex is sold on the internet, like online classified ads, but is also using advanced technology to investigate human trafficking on the deep web or dark web. The deep or dark web refers to those locations online that do not get indexed by the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, or Ask, and therefore remain out of the general public's online search results. Shockingly, experts estimate that only 10% of the internet is actually indexed by search engine sites.