Several arrested, victims rescued in Bay Area for alleged human trafficking, officials say

Melanie Woodrow Image
Thursday, August 3, 2023
Several arrested in Bay Area for alleged human trafficking: officials
The FBI, along with Bay Area county district attorneys announced a large human trafficking bust Wednesday.

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- The FBI, along with Bay Area county district attorneys announced a human trafficking bust Wednesday.

Operation Cross Country, a nationwide effort to combat human trafficking, resulted in the identification or arrest of more than five dozen suspected human traffickers and more than 100 individuals accused of child sexual exploitation. Seventeen individual operations were recently conducted over a two-week period. Locally, agents arrested nine offenders. Three Bay Area Juvenile victims were recovered and another was identified.

"Rescuing children has always been a top priority for the operation. They're our kids. They're living in our communities. They're living in our streets, and they are not for sale," said Bob Tripp, FBI SF special agent in charge.

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The FBI says the operation successfully rescued a total of 200 victims of human trafficking and located 59 minor victims of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton says California consistently leads all other states in reports of human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, accounting for 13% of all reports in the last year.

She announced Wednesday that officers arrested two men for human trafficking and recovered or identified nine victims in Contra Costa County, including one juvenile.

Three separate operations took place in Contra Costa County from July 19 to Sunday, leading to the arrest of a 24-year-old man from Oakland and a 33-year-old man from Sacramento.

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Law enforcement officials didn't identify victims or the cities in which they were found, or from where they were taken. They also said at least four other cases turned up during last month's effort are still being investigated.

"This crime is a real problem here in California," Becton said.

Becton and Tripp said ongoing services will be given to the victims.

"Victims identified through these operations were offered immediate crisis intervention and support services from a dedicated team of advocates to help them begin their journey out of human trafficking," Becton said.

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"When they met with five survivors that day, they had an impact and there was a voice for them that may not have existed prior, someone who could speak for them in the future," said Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Greg Boller.

"More than anything, talking them through what's going on and trying to build that rapport and relationship with the victims," said Katrina Natale, Contra Costa Human Trafficking Taskforce director.

The Bay Area Operation Cross Country efforts also rescued 17 adult victims of human trafficking. Three illegally owned guns were also seized.

It's not clear exactly who will be charged with what and by whom, be it local, state or federal charges, Becton said. Charges will likely include sex trafficking of a minor, pimping, pandering, supervising, aiding, or recruiting a prostitute, and violating a protective order.

Anyone with information on suspected human trafficking (sex or labor) or related crimes can call their local law enforcement agency or the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office human trafficking tip line at (925) 957-8658.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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