LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles has become a hot bed for human trafficking.
Authorities announced that 145 arrests were made in Los Angeles County during a recent statewide operation investigating human trafficking.
"Operation Reclaim and Rebuild'' involved more than 100 federal, state and local agencies, and resulted in 450 arrests statewide, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.
"The goal of the operation was simply to rescue and recover victims of human trafficking and to arrest their traffickers or individuals who have exploited them,'' LAPD Deputy Chief Kris Pitcher said at a news conference Thursday morning.
During the seven-day operation, the LAPD made 91 arrests, the Long Beach Police Department made 13 arrests, the L.A. Regional Human Trafficking Task Force made 36 arrests and the Pomona Police Department made five arrests.
Over two dozen victims were rescued, 13 of them were minors.
Statewide, 39 victims of human trafficking were rescued during the operation, including 13 juveniles, officials said. In Los Angeles County, 14 victims of human trafficking were rescued, 12 by the LAPD and two by the Pomona Police Department.
The task force has several agencies they work with to help victims including one that has been working with child internationally. Zoe International is a faith based nonprofit, which has partnered with the task force, lending their expertise and soon, housing for some of the young women.
"Sadly, gang members have found out that selling a young girl, repeatedly, is more profitable than selling guns, or drugs, which they can only sell once…"says David Cox, with the agency.
The pandemic has made things worse, with minors spending more time online, which is where exploiters know to find them.
They promise them love and gifts, to entice, explains LAPD Deputy Chief Kris Pitcher adding that predators soon start coercing and abusing to the point that even when they want to, these victims have no way out.
The L.A. Regional Human Trafficking Task Force includes personnel from the U.S. Attorney's office, the California Attorney General's office, the California Highway Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, the LAPD, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles County Probation Department.
Operation Reclaim and Rebuild was conducted as part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
If you want to find out more information on Zoe International’s work in the Los Angeles area visit their website at gozoe.org.