SANTA BARBARA COUNTY The Santa Barbara County Human Trafficking Task Force and other local task forces announced the arrests of 17 people as part of a human trafficking operation that took place between Jan. 26 and Feb. 1.
The arrests were made as part of the sixth annual Operation Reclaim and Rebuild enforcement, which was held in January to correlate with National Human Trafficking Awareness month. The operation was conducted by more than 70 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, and was focused on rescuing victims of human trafficking and aiding them in rebuilding their lives, according to a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department news release.
In total, 518 arrests were made. A total of 76 adults and 11 minor victims were recovered, with 266 men arrested on solicitation charges and 27 suspected traffickers and exploiters taken into custody. The Santa Barbra County, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Human Trafficking Task forces arrested a total of three pimps and 14 solicitors. The names of the arrestees were withheld due to the ongoing investigation.
In addition, a total of 22 potential victims were contacted and offered services, said Raquel Zick, sheriff’s spokeswoman.
The county Human Trafficking Task Force team includes the Sheriff’s Office, Lompoc Police Department, Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, Santa Barbara Police Department and Santa Maria Police Department.
The county Human Trafficking Task Force was established in 2016 with a $1.34 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. The grant was renewed in 2020 with an additional $1.2 million in funding for three years.If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, call the sheriff’s Anonymous Tip Line at 805-681-4171 or visit www.sbsheriff.org/anonymous-tip.