DA Participates in National Sex Buyer Sting

Alameda County District Attorney and Law Enforcement Agencies Participate in National Sex Buyer Sting Netting More Than 500 Sex Buyer Arrests

OAKLAND, CA- District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley announced today that her office, under the leadership of Assistant District Attorney Sharmin Bock, conducted four covert operations targeting sex buyers, yielding a total of 45 arrests of sex buyers and two sex traffickers.

Participating in the operation were the Oakland Police Department and the Hayward Police Department. Also participating in the operations were the Alameda County Sheriff’s Transit Crime Unit, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Special Victims’ Unit and the Alameda County S.A.F.E. (Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement) Task Force, a multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency law enforcement team, led by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, focusing on predatory sex offenders.

Twenty-six law enforcement agencies across eleven states, from California to New York, participated in this five-week sting operation that targeted sex buyers and led to the arrest of more than 500 sex buyers. Since its inception in 2011, the National “John” Suppression Initiative, led by the Cook County Sheriff in Chicago, Illinois, has resulted in the arrest of more than 9,500 sex buyers with more than 140 participating agencies.

Combatting human trafficking, especially sex trafficking, has been a high priority for Alameda County DA Nancy O’Malley, who is a statewide and national leader in this fight. In 2005, before there was a law in California, she created the first H.E.A.T. (Human Exploitation and Trafficking) Unit, led by Assistant District Attorney Sharmin Bock. In 2009, DA O’Malley and Assistant DA Bock created H.E.A.T. Watch, an award-winning strategic blueprint for communities to combat human trafficking across California and the United States. In 2015, DA O’Malley created the H.E.A.T. Institute, a California-based research institute, to study root causes of sexual exploitation and strategies for prevention and survivor empowerment. The Institute also focused on labor trafficking and sex buyers.

“There is no question that human trafficking, on the streets or online, can only exist if there is a demand. It is vital for society to recognize the significant role that sex buyers play in fueling sex trafficking. I have made it a priority for my Office to put a spotlight on demand,” says DA O’Malley.

Echoing this sentiment, Sheriff Gregory Ahern stated that “the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has a long history of making human trafficking and sexual exploitation investigations one of our highest primary concerns, and we recognize that targeting buyers is an essential strategy. We will continue to join forces with our law enforcement partners across the nation to put an end to these horrible crimes perpetrated against those most vulnerable in our communities.”

Oakland Police Chief Anne E. Kirkpatrick stressed that “when law enforcement agencies join together we are stronger in combating human trafficking by arresting both the buyer and supplier and rescuing the victims.“

The Hayward Police Department is committed to working collaboratively with our law enforcement partners to rid our communities of human trafficking. I commend the efforts of all involved in this demand reduction operation,” said Hayward Interim Police Chief Bryan Matthews.

“I am proud that my Office came together with our law enforcement partners across Alameda County to work closely on such an important issue,” says Assistant DA Bock. “Sex trafficking is everywhere and so are sex buyers. As the result of our effective coordinated effort, we were able to arrest two sex traffickers and 45 sex buyers.”

Since the passage of California’s anti-trafficking law in 2006, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has prosecuted more than 600 human traffickers for cases mostly involving young women and minors as victims. “Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in our country,” says DA O’Malley, “and we must address the reality that it is being funded by the buyers.”

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Contact: ADA Sharmin Bock // Sharmin.Bock@acgov.org (510) 272-6244)

Posted on Aug 2, 2019