(BCN) — Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton announced Wednesday officers arrested two men for human trafficking and recovered or identified nine victims in Contra Costa County, including one juvenile. The arrests by the Contra Costa Human Trafficking Task Force were made as part of Operation Cross Country, a nationwide effort last month to put a dent in human trafficking.
Three separate operations took place in Contra Costa County from July 19 to Sunday, leading to the arrest of a 24-year-old man from Oakland and a 33-year-old man from Sacramento.
“This crime is a real problem here in California,” Becton said during a news conference at her Martinez office.
“Our state consistently leads all other states in reports of human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, accounting for 13 percent of all such reports in the last year,” Becton said. “Over the past four years, just five of our county’s victim service providers served over 500 victims of human trafficking here. That’s why operations across the country (are) crucial in curbing the abuses of those who prey on the vulnerable.”
Law enforcement officials didn’t identify victims or the cities in which they were found, or from where they were taken. They also said at least four other cases turned up during last month’s effort are still being investigated.
Robert Tripp, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco field office, said Operation Cross Country — now its 13th year — successfully rescued 200 victims of sex trafficking across the nation, 59 of whom were minors.
Authorities arrested more than five dozen suspected human traffickers and 126 individuals accused of child sexual exploitation and trafficking.
“Operation Cross Country was designed to find and assist all victims of human trafficking, but rescuing children has always been a top priority for the operation,” Tripp said. “These are kids, they’re living in our communities, they’re living on our streets, and they are not for sale.”
The FBI and 29 other Bay Area law enforcement agencies conducted 17 operations during the two-week period. Three adolescent victims were recovered, and another was identified. Local teams also located 17 adult victims, arrested nine suspects, and recovered three firearms. Becton and Tripp said ongoing services will be given to the victims.
“Victims identified through these operations were offered immediate crisis intervention and support services from a dedicated team of advocates to help them begin their journey out of human trafficking,” Becton said.
It’s not clear exactly who will be charged with what and by whom, be it local, state or federal charges, Becton said. Charges will likely include sex trafficking of a minor, pimping, pandering, supervising, aiding, or recruiting a prostitute, and violating a protective order.
Anyone with information on suspected human trafficking (sex or labor) or related crimes can call their local law enforcement agency or the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office human trafficking tip line at (925) 957-8658.
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