Along with rescuing a 16-year-old girl, authorities arrested 28 people in a human trafficking sting operation in Compton, officials said Wednesday.
The girl, who was rescued from Long Beach Boulevard, is from Texas and was initially trafficked in Houston before being taken to Southern California, authorities said. Law enforcement and FBI officials have since reunited the girl with her parents in Houston.
Meanwhile, the 28 arrests include 12 men accused of soliciting undercover sheriff’s deputies for sex acts, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Eleven women were arrested on suspicion of loitering for the purpose of prostitution while another three women were arrested on suspicion of solicitation for prostitution, authorities said.
Those three women had tried to solicit sex for money from undercover detectives, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Another two men were also arrested.
Juan Carlos Perez Rivas, 37, of Fullerton tried to solicit sex from someone he thought was a young girl through a social media website, sheriff’s officials said. The person turned out to be an undercover detective and Rivas was arrested on suspicion of traveling to meet a minor for lewd purposes.
Pasadena resident Major Louis Starling, 33, was arrested on suspicion of pandering after allegedly trying to recruit an undercover detective to be a sex worker, officials said.
Rivas remains in custody on $75,000 bail while Starling was being held on $35,000 bail.
All of the women were offered victim-centered services from a diversion program run by law enforcement officials and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking.
After being medically cleared, the teen victim was placed in the care of Saving Innocence, an organization that works with law enforcement to provide food, clothing, medical care and other services to underage victims of sex trafficking. The group coordinated the girl’s reunion with her family.
The case was investigated by officials with the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Children and Family Services, California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles County Probation Department, police with the Los Angeles Unified School District and victims’ advocacy groups including the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking and Saving Innocence.
Anyone with information can contact L.A. County human trafficking investigators at 323-526-5156. Anonymous tips can be sent by calling 800-222-8477, downloading the “P3 Tips” app on Google play or the Apple App Store or by visiting http://lacrimestoppers.org.