Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County Sting Operation Aims to End Human Trafficking

The FBI and a Santa Clara County task force late Wednesday caught alleged prostitutes, pimps and their would-be customers in a rigged hotel setup.

The sting operation is part of a strategy first unveiled during Super Bowl week to crack down on human trafficking and rescue victims.

"We're trying to find the actual victims of human trafficking," Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup said. "We're also trying to fight the demand."

A 20-year-old woman was one of several people involved in the sting. The woman showed up at the hotel room for a meeting arranged through a sex website and was met with the task force on human trafficking.

The woman tearfully told officers she just lost her job and supports her mother this way, but a background check revealed an outstanding arrest warrant for prostitution.

Regardless, the task force treated the woman as a victim.

"We had the option of taking her to jail, and we had the option of not doing anything and walking away," Stenderup said. "And we had this third option: We had advocates on scene with us to be able to offer services.

Wednesday's sting was the second of a two-day operation and provided plenty of opportunities to cite and offer those services.

The sting also involved a woman officer using sex websites to meet potential male customers.

Alleged "Johns" are also offered services.

The task force said for all its compassion, the bottom line is to stop ongoing human trafficking and the prostitution, pimping and violence that is usually tied to it all.

Authorities said late Wednesdays at least 13 misdemeanor citations were issued, two victims rescued and at least one felony human trafficking arrest was made.

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