Vice investigators arrested 198 people and rescued 18 human trafficking victims — including 12 minors — during a three-day operation targeting sex exploitation in Los Angeles County, authorities said Thursday.
The sweep, dubbed Operation Reclaim, ran from Jan. 21 to Jan. 23, in unspecified areas of Los Angeles County. Authorities said they discovered gambling, a home that was used for prostitution and several women and minors who were involved in the sex trade.
Of the 198 arrests, 115 people were booked in connection with soliciting prostitution, said Officer Liliana Preciado, spokeswoman of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Six women and 12 minors, mostly African American, were identified as trafficking victims and had been used for sexual slavery, LAPD Det. Lina Teague said. They were placed in protective custody and offered social services assistance.
"That's what this is all about — these minors," she said. "We are helping them reclaim and rebuild their lives."
The women were found soliciting prostitution on the streets throughout Los Angeles County, Teague said.
The sweep involved personnel from the LAPD's Human Trafficking Unit, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the FBI's Innocence Lost Task Force.
They arrested six pimps and found gambling at some of the locations targeted during the raid.
"When you have this activity, you'll have prostitution associated with it," Teague said.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In 2015, 949 human trafficking cases were reported in California, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. More than 3,800 victims were discovered in human trafficking in the state since 2007.
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