First, the California operation:
A human trafficking operation carried out by authorities throughout the state of California resulted in a total of 474 arrests and the rescue of 28 children and 27 adults.
Operation Reclaim and Rebuild has been going on for three years, though this is the first year it has gone on state-wide, reports Fox 5. Stings were carried out from Thursday to Saturday, and combined the forces of over 30 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, according to a release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
[Massive Human Trafficking Sting Results in 474 Arrests And 55 Rescues, Juliet Rylah, LAist, February 1, 2017]
One imagines cops breaking down hundreds of doors and finding young children chained in a closets, filthy, and starved. However, the reality is much more mundane and similar to an episode of Cops, than the brothel shootout scene in Street Kings staring Keanu Reeves from 2008. At the beginning of the movie, Reeves character, ace Los Angeles Police Department Detective Tom Ludlow, breaks into a Korean brothel with no regard for legal niceties, shoots several Korean gang members, and rescues several young Asian children locked in a closet. A good movie, Reeves' best performance, and an excellent portrayal of minority street gangs and corrupt Black cops. The film inadvertently gave insight into the real Rampart scandal with was corrupt Hispanic and Black cops who tarnished the image of the white LAPD.
Back to the "human trafficking" though. It soon becomes apparent that all those arrests are unrelated to actual human trafficking of minors, much less children.
Operation Reclaim and Rebuild works in multiple ways, but starts by targeting customers via stings conducted both on the streets and online. Some "specially-trained cyber detectives" worked by pretending to be teenage girls on the Internet and arranged meetings with potential pimps or customers. Of the over 400 arrests, 142 men were arrested on suspicion of solicitation, 238 people were arrested on suspicion of prostitution, and another 36 men were arrested on charges of pimping. In Delano, four women were arrested at a massage parlor after allegedly telling authorities they were not being trafficked, and were operating independently.
That sounds more like an episode of cops where johns or prostitutes are targeted than the "rescue" of little children.
Which is what it is. Just look at the numbers, only 28 "children" were rescued. So, of almost 500 arrests, only 28 actually involved minors of any type, much less any who were trafficked. In fact, there is no evidence in the story that any of the minors were trafficked. Tellingly, no ages of the "children" were given. Which is not a surprise, since the "children" were mostly likely teenaged runaways or emancipated teenagers who decided that prostitution is an easy profession to work in, and of little time demand. And most likely were in it to feed a drug habit, something encouraged by the easy availability of drugs due to to Mexican drug cartels and their smugglers, as well as lax California attitudes to gateway drugs like marijuana and prescription drugs.
Similarly, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Victims Unit (ICE SVU) is still peddling human trafficking as their go-to crime, rather than dealing with massive alien smuggling rings.
NEW YORK — One of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) 10 most wanted human trafficking fugitives was extradited Friday to face criminal charges for sex trafficking. This is subsequent to an initial arrest Sept. 2016 in Mexico, following a joint investigation between ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Mexico City, HSI New York and the Mexican Federal Police.
Raul Granados-Rendon, 30, was extradited to the United States on Jan. 27 and was arraigned Saturday at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. Granados-Rendon faces a 21-count indictment charging him with racketeering and racketeering conspiracy involving predicate acts of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; sex trafficking of minors; interstate prostitution; alien smuggling and related offenses.
[Human Trafficking Fugitive On ICE's Top 10 List Extradited To US From Mexico, ICE Press Release, January 17, 2017]
However, ICE SVU couldn't find any trafficked children, so they identified adult prostitutes as trafficking victims:
As set forth in extradition affidavits and other court papers, between October 1998 and June 2011, members of the Granados sex trafficking organization, including Raul Granados-Rendon and others, illegally smuggled young women into the United States where they were forced to work as prostitutes in New York City and elsewhere in the United States. The organization collected profits from the victims’ activities. When victims refused to work or resisted members of the organization beat and sexually assaulted them, and threatened the victims’ family members in Mexico, including the victims’ children.
HSI special agents have identified and rescued over 20 additional victims, all Mexican nationals, and arrested over a dozen additional traffickers or smugglers, all members or associates of the Granados family. Several victims were sexually assaulted by their traffickers, while others were physically assaulted. All the victims said the traffickers threatened to harm their family members.
So, ICE SVU has managed to arrest more alleged human traffickers than the 20 alleged adult victims of the alleged trafficking.
This is just a sexing up, if you will pardon the pun, of the old crime of alien smuggling. The only difference is that the smuggled aliens are prostitutes rather than dishwashers or field hands.
One hopes that ICE SVU can forego the need to sex-up the quotidien crime of alien smuggling in the future, and go after all alien smuggling rings bringing in thousands of illegal aliens, including those from terrorist source countries, not just those of prostitutes.