Five people were arrested in Operation Home for the Holidays, an annual multi-jurisdictional operation to combat human trafficking throughout San Diego County.
The multi-day investigation ended on Wednesday and targeted enforcement using undercover officers to arrest potential traffickers and offer support to survivors. The operation began last week and was carried out over a period of three separate days in the city of San Diego, National City, and Santee.
According to Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office, there were 21 individuals were offered support services, along with firearm and marijuana seizures.
“No matter the time of year, everyone deserves a safe place to call home,” Bonta said. “Operation Home for the Holidays is a key part of our joint efforts to keep our communities safe and fight back against human trafficking. I’m grateful to our partners on the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force for their ongoing collaboration and work to support victims, survivors, and their families. Together, we’ll continue to take action to hold those who break the law accountable.”
Law enforcement personnel worked undercover as sex buyers to identify and contact potential victims of trafficking and traffickers by responding to online advertisements. Authorities arrested five people for alleged pimping and pandering, or other offenses during the sting operation, according to Bonta’s office.
“Human traffickers won’t stop exploiting victims unless we stop them,” said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan. “That’s why these Human Trafficking Task Force operations are so important. Our goal is always to recover victims, identify traffickers, and hold them accountable under the law. Every human being deserves to have a safe home for the holidays and all year round.”
Child Welfare Services and adult and juvenile support service advocates were on the scene to provide assistance as needed.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there were more than 1,300 human trafficking cases reported in California in 2020. Bonta’s office notes that in California, human trafficking is prevalent in the hospitality, commercial sex, domestic work, and construction industries
Victims of human trafficking are also found among migrant and seasonal agricultural workers, providers of residential care, and in the garment sector.
If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 to access help and services. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
Additional information and resources to support survivors of human trafficking are available here.