Oakland police, FBI take action to assess trafficking concerns near school after I-Team report

This comes after the I-Team captured video of an alleged sex worker appearing to be soliciting outside an East Oakland.
Friday, February 3, 2023
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Law enforcement agencies are committed to put enhanced patrols and install new surveillance cameras after an I-Team report revealed concerns of possible prostitution and human trafficking outside a K-8 grade school in East Oakland, according to city officials.

Sources confirmed to the I-Team, the FBI picked up a 13-year-old girl along E. 15th St. in Oakland last week. Gallo says up to around 20 young women are walking the street and sometimes pimps are blocking the driveways to homes in the neighborhood.

RELATED: Video showing alleged sex workers soliciting outside East Oakland school sparks call for action
Video shows alleged sex workers soliciting outside Oakland school

According to City Councilmember Noelle Gallo, some of the women working along E. 15th St. are brought in from out of state.

"In the evenings you'll see a van come up and unload the girls and these are vans that are not from Oakland," Gallo said.

"Where are these women coming from?" ABC7's Stephanie Sierra asked.

"When I was out on the street with police on a ride along, I saw the van pull up and I saw license plates from Nevada. They were being brought up from outside Nevada... I saw five, six girls get out of the van," said Gallo.

MORE: San Francisco FBI reports 'concerning spike' in child exploitation cases across Bay Area

Gallo says the vans typically have out-of-state license plates. They arrive early in the morning and leave late in the evening.

"Eight o'clock in the evening, I saw them all get back into the van, drive on, and we followed them and they went on the freeway and went on," said Gallo.

Gallo says the Oakland Police Dept. will be enhancing patrols around the school and the FBI will be installing additional surveillance cameras. The two agencies uncovered operations in the area last week.

"In many large cities you have places that's called the stroll or the walk, this is where the transaction is taking place," said Robert Tripp, the special agent in charge for the FBI's San Francisco division.

EXCLUSIVE: SF residents say this street has turned into 'Las Vegas Strip' with alleged sex workers
EXCLUSIVE: SF residents say this street has turned into 'Las Vegas Strip' with alleged sex workers

Investigators say some of the suspected trafficking operations along E. 15th St. may be gang-related.

"Usually the trafficker and the person in charge are one in the same," said Tripp. "This crime depends so much on the relationship between the abuser and the victim. It's a very compact chain of command."

"We understand a meeting is now in the works to discuss a new enforcement plan, is that right?" ABC7's Stephanie Sierra asked.

"Yes. That's in place," Gallo said. "But I will state for the public, for the record, we have greater cooperation with the FBI."

EXCLUSIVE: Convicted Contra Costa County sex trafficker says women acted willingly

Prostitution and human trafficking have long plagued International Blvd. in East Oakland. But as Gallo pointed out, it's become more pervasive after recent construction moved the women into residential neighborhoods. Oftentimes, seen right across the street from St. Anthony's as children are walking into school.

"The city needs to do more about it," said Rosa Vargas, who drops her 5-year-old daughter off each day.

The FBI says they're seeing more guns recovered in local trafficking operations and found pimps are using apps to track their victims' locations.

"Traffickers using tracking apps to keep track of their victims," said Tripp. "Especially in trafficking operations that take place on the street."

Take a look at more stories by the ABC7 News I-Team.

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