In an exclusive, the Oakland Police Department invited NBC Bay Area News to ride along during a sting operation targeting pimps who use underage girls as prostitutes. Using marked money, the department’s “Vice and Child Exploitation Unit” conducts sting operations at massage parlors throughout Oakland. Undercover officers tell us the teen prostitution trade is more lucrative than drugs because the overhead is low if they “Snatch [a girl] off the corner.”
Officer Jim Saleda is one year from retirement and has worked in the unit for a decade. He says pimps will either romance the girls at first before selling their bodies, or have them gang-raped until they agree to work the streets. According to United States Congress, 100,000 children born in the states are working against their will as child prostitutes. Hundreds of juvenile girls are working the streets of Oakland a year.
The department is throwing a lot of resources and money at the problem. Oakland Police’s Holly Joshi tells us “The days of being able to tell if a girl is being exploited by the way she dressed are over. People drive by them everyday.” Joshi worked in the special unit for three years. She says one pimp off the street will save 10 underage girls each year.
During tonight's sting, two women were arrested at La Paradise Spa on Park Avenue in Oakland. No underage girls were found at the raid, but the unit continues their work to save them.