Criminal Justice

214 Sex Workers Arrested in Super Bowl 'Human Trafficking' Mission

In addition, 201 "sex buyers" were arrested.


More than 200 sex workers were arrested as part of an operation that police have billed as an attempt to save people from human trafficking. The arrests—part of a Super Bowl-adjacent collaboration between Los Angeles law enforcement and the feds—represent an all too common theme in U.S. law enforcement, where people claim to be helping sex workers while actually subjecting them to harm.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) took the lead on this round of sex worker arrests, which they have christened with the creepy name "Operation Reclaim and Rebuild." LASD was joined by "more than 80 participating federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, and task forces from across California," a press release from the department states. These included the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations.

On February 15, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva held a press conference to brag about Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, an annual operation that's now in its seventh year. Villaneueva was joined by representatives of the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation—a conservative values group formerly known as Morality in Media which aims to eradicate all sex work.

Over the course of one week, police carried out Operation Reclaim and Rebuild around the state of California. Their claimed mission was "combating human trafficking."

But the vast majority of those arrested were people attempting to engage in consensual prostitution, according to data released by LASD. At the end of the week, 214 people were arrested for allegedly selling sex and 201 people were arrested for allegedly trying to pay for sex.

Meanwhile, the LASD data says only 53 people were arrested for pimping, pandering, or supervising prostitution. And it's unclear if any of these individuals were engaged in anything that we might think of as abusive or non-consensual behavior—aka sex trafficking. Charges such as pimping and pandering are routinely applied to people sex workers willingly contract with to find customers, serve as bodyguards, drive them to appointments, or place ads; if two sex workers are working together and one drives or places the ad, that person might be considered a pimp. The charge doesn't necessarily mean someone has been exploitative or violent.

Villanueva said at yesterday's press conference that "30 suspected traffickers and exploiters were arrested," which still doesn't provide much real information. (How is "exploiter" defined? Will anyone actually be charged with human trafficking?)

None of this has stopped headlines from announcing the results of Operation Reclaim and Rebuild in a way that implies police found massive amounts of human trafficking—a crime that by definition involves force, fraud, coercion, or minors. ("Nearly 500 arrested in statewide human trafficking operation," asserts the Los Angeles Times headline.)

In reality, most of the arrests—445—were for misdemeanors. According to an LASD data tables, 415 of the arrests involved misdemeanor prostitution, loitering for prostitution, or escorting without a license suspicions, and 15 involved allegations of supervising prostitution. Eleven involved other misdemeanors not related to sex.

Just 49 arrests involved felony allegations. Eight of these were not related to human trafficking or sex, seven involved unspecified sexual felonies related to a minor, and 34 involved either human trafficking, pimping, or pandering. (The report does not break down that last category, despite the differing implications in each charge.)

You can find a full breakdown of Operation Reclaim and Rebuild arrests and "rescues" here. Most of the people counted as rescues—74—were adults, while 8 were minors.

What police mean by "rescues" is not specified. In many operations like these, sex workers who say they were working under duress are able to avoid prostitution charges, which might incentivize people to falsely tell police they are victims. Sometimes anyone who accepts an offer to speak to social services is tallied as a rescue, even though this doesn't necessarily mean they were being victimized.

And, of course, some of these rescues may indeed be victims of forced prostitution, in need of help from law enforcement. It's just not clear why these people couldn't be helped without arresting hundreds of people for unrelated crimes.

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  1. This is more important than citizens money being stolen by the Canadian government.

    1. Or D.C. police breaking into a Congressman's office.

      1. Or beating a January 6 protester to death.

        1. You expect reporting from these goofs?

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    3. Certainly more important than the Durham report that points to Hillary Clinton and the FBI spying on Trump as a candidate and as President. Clinton and the DNC buying false information and the Congressional Democratic insiders in on this using it to impeach a duly elected sitting President.
      Hooker are way more important than that stuff.

      1. Pfft. Happened a long time ago. Old news.


            And the fact that the overlap with the Obama admin just coincidentally happened to be the exact time trump was also transitioning to the white house, from early November 16' through February of 17'.

            But this is what the left has to do now. The evidence is becoming so overwhelming and Durham getting so close to the top that the lefty controlled media must omit or ignore entire swaths of facts in a story in order to spin it to fit their narrative and avoid looking like complete hypocrite fuckwits for peddling lies for nearly 6 years.

            1. I mean, did you expect quality reporting from Vanity Fair? By nature they write fluff.

              It is hilarious that they took up the Durham story before Reason though.

  2. "Men don't pay prostitutes for sex. They pay them to go away." -Rush Limbaugh

    1. So, there’s a bit of an math story problem here: this mean one John hired 14 hookers, or two Johns hired 14 hooked between them…

      1. Unless the john's name is John, because it's not a proper noun it's not capitalized.

        1. My high school English teacher never cover this.

          1. And, apparently, never covered the past tense.

          2. Your high school English teacher love you long time?

            1. So did you two do it?

              1. The grey wall is hilarious. 😀

    2. That's actually originally attributed to Clark gable, and then made famous by Charlie Sheen...

      Another sarc joke swings and misses!

    3. Pretty sure it was Charlie Sheen who said that.


    4. That's an old saying. Maybe Rush quoted it at one point. I've said it too, therefore:

      "Men don't pay prostitutes for sex. They pay them to go away." - Think It Through

  3. I've never enjoyed so much being trolled.

    is the discrepancy in numbers because a few buyers ordered more than one seller?

    1. Some buyers were probably SF politicians, so catch and release for them.

    2. Any time someone writes an article and includes the phrase, "it's unclear whether..." followed by shade, they really know nothing. It's bullshit/yellow/coward journalism, if you can even call it that,

      Add to that, admitting you don't know how certain words are being defined and what you have is nothing. Make a fucking phone call ENB. Once again, ENB shows her expertise at using a cloud of innuendo to cast suspicion and doubt without a bit of meat. She's reading a report and telling you what she doesn't know about it. Utter bullshit writing and worth every bit the $12 that Reason should have paid for fake journalism.

      1. That's false. The only obfuscation was in the LASD's deliberately-vague press release, which Brown highlighted. That's what reporters are *supposed* to do. See the AP's Matt Lee.

        "Make a fucking phone call ENB."

        Brown consistently does much better than that, i.e. reporting the *actual charges* (which almost never involve minors or coercion).

        The only "innuendo" is headline porn published by the DA's office.

        1. Not all sex crimes or trafficking involve minors, this wasn't a pedophile sting. You'd have to look to the Biden family, CNN, or the Clintons/DNC if you want to investigate that.

          And it's cute you think most prostitutes aren't being coerced by a pimp or madame ENB. Is "gimme the money or I'll take it from you" , not coercion?

          Pro tip, don't refer to a writer only by their formal last name. It gives away that you're actually the writer but too cowardly to use your real name to defend yourself.

          1. "And it's cute you think most prostitutes aren't being coerced"

            The naïveté is on your part, in assuming that would be necessary. Conservative girls are usually hornier than I am, and liberal girls are often downright gross.

            Your daughter is probably picking up older men on a sugar baby site, and doesn't have any of your chromosomes.

    3. The most likely scenario is that one tactic used was "undercover" operations, where a cop poses as a john and propositions hookers. Easy and cheap way to get quick arrests.

    4. 214 Sex Workers Arrested in Super Bowl 'Human Trafficking' Mission
      In addition, 201 "sex buyers" were arrested.

      It's a den of in-equity, I tell ya! Where are the Occupiers, Bernie-Bros, and SJWs about this? Equality of Happy Ending Results For All!

  4. ....and 15 involved allegations of supervising prostitution.

    How else are the rookies going to learn the ropes?

    1. I believe union goons prefer the exact technical term: mentoring.

  5. Show me a steadfast opponent of prostitution and I'll show you a married man who paid waaaaaay more than he should have for the tired piece of ass he shares a bed with.

    1. More likely a married woman.

    2. How did that divorce treat you?

      1. You know what they say: divorce is expensive because it's worth it.

        1. Kids write often?

    3. Too true.

      And the tragic part is that a lot of those married sex-addicts will throw their own kids under the bus while trying to get validation from a woman who never liked them and hates their kids.

      1. Tell us more about your ex husband Elizabeth.

      2. This is the part where you take the notes from your last therapy session and keep them private. K?

        1. I'm from the northern Great Planes. We're not big on therapy.

          But when one of my Latina friends came to the US a few years ago, she was horrified by how bad American families are.

          She babysat for a young couple and said that the mother just played with her phone all evening and ignored the kids (who unsurprisingly came down with social-developmental disorders). The father was like a single-dad, doing the cooking and cleaning after he got off work. And the couple was so neurotic that my friend had to quit after a couple of weeks.

      3. I'm kidding of course.

        Do tell....

  6. creepy name "Operation Reclaim and Rebuild."

    You say creepy, I say awesome.

    "We have the technology. We can rebuild them." - The $6M Hooker.

    1. No hooker is worth $6m. Few are worth $600.

      1. Son of Loveless got them down to $600 apiece, and projected further savings with mass production.

        1. Is this Son of Miguelito Loveless from The Wild, Wild West? I must have missed that episode. 🙂

          1. It was the first made-for-TV movie.

            1. Ah, that's Right. The Wild, Wild West Revisited.

              For some reason, I was thinking of the made-for-TV movie the year after, More Wild, Wild West, where James an Artie stop development of a pre-Manhattan Project Atom Bomb.

              Yep Miguelito's Minier-Me had the right idea on lowering price, though the currency was worth more back then, so the price comparison is prolly a wash.

  7. 214 sex workers and only 201 sex buyers. So a couple of greedy bastards wanted two hookers at once?

    1. Why would you not want that?

    2. I like a good two-for-one sale.

    3. Maybe some were trading sex for sex.

      1. That would avoid devaluation of the currency and all the problems with Bitcoin.

    4. 13 famous buyers were not arrested.

      1. Check the roll call for Congress and the TV Guide for Televangelist broadcast times.

  8. Shel Silverstein did some cartoons explaining California before Reagan's ban on acid. Girl: "There's no prostitution here. I give you my body because I love you. And you give me some money because you love me!"
    Then along came The looter Kleptocracy...

    1. In the days and months following 9/11, I actually wanted, for the duration of the war, to switch our National Anthem to Shel Silverstein's "Freakin' At The Freaker's Ball," just to piss off the Islamofascists in Al-Qaeda and The Taliban and their Christofascist apologists like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and the Westboro Baptist Zombies.

      "Freakin' At The Freaker's Ball"--Performed by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show

  9. In my lifetime in the USA alone we've gotten almost all porn legalized, a great number of legal avenues for gambling, and in much of the USA legal cannabis and reduced penalties for other drug violations. Why has prostitution been so resistant to progress?

    1. Because no one really wants prostitutes besides homeless dudes, nearly homeless dudes, and politicians.

      1. Never understood it. There are many things I will not pay for and sex is one of them. Maybe this makes me prude, but sticking my dick in someone who goes through more dicks than underpants in a week is just gross.

        1. Never underestimate qualified professionals getting ahead in their field.

    2. Because, nationally, the opposite of Pro-gress in Con-gress.

      And, Statewide, "Le-gi-sla-tures" has the same number of syllables as "pro-sti-tu-tion" and the Legislatures can't stand the competition for mindshare or revenue.

  10. But what does Matt Yglesias think?

    1. That he could do better research than ENB?


      1. Too soon to Godwin yourself. You should have asked: " You know who else banned prostitution?"

  11. Wait a minute. Escorting without a license?

    How does one acquire such a license? Is there a training period? Do they have to attend classes on how to escort someone? Is there a guild of escorts? Can you escort someone for free on your own time without remuneration?

    This raises so many questions.

    1. Just like Mister Owl, "Let's find out..."

      "How Many Licks Does It Take To Get To The Tootsie Roll Center Of A Tootsie Pop?"

  12. Does anyone else have trouble with this page registering clicks when you're trying to scroll? I get it all the time on Android (on two different phones) and never have the problem on a desktop or when using other sites.

    1. Yes, the hit boxes on the reply, flag, and mute links are very sensitive on my phone as well, also Android, no matter the browser.

  13. Legalize prostitution and you free up police resources better diverted to actual crimes, like rape, which have seen a uniform decrease in everywhere that legalized hookers.

    But then how would the undercover agents get their tip taken care of?

    1. Pseudonymously? With the name "John Smith?"

  14. OK, 80 AGENCIES "rescued" 74 people.
    Can we talk about where we should defund the police?
    I am curious about how many government employees spent how many man hours for how many tax dollars on this fiasco, including the planning and reporting.

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