LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A statewide multi-agency task force targeting human trafficking resulted in the arrests of 368 people -- 116 by LAPD investigators -- and the rescue of 131 victims, authorities said Wednesday.
Operation Reclaim and Rebuild was conducted over seven days in nine counties, including Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino, said Chief Michel Moore of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies were involved in the effort, including the LAPD, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
"The victims' ages in this operation were found to be between 13 and 52 years of age, with six of them being juveniles," Moore said at a news conference at the LAPD Elysian Park Academy.
"The average age of most victims was in their mid-20s, and our investigators worked diligently alongside our victim advocacy groups in providing these victims with services and resources to help them escape from this life-threatening environment."
Investigators responded to various advertisements offering sexual services, and went to massage parlors where people were suspected of being involved in sex trafficking. Among the arrestees were pimps and panderers, along with customers of sexual services, Moore said.
Moore noted that "in the old days," the victims of human traffickers were often regarded by law enforcement as criminals, but a more modern attitude is to regard them as having been exploited by criminals -- many of them having been kidnapped and held against their will.
Authorities stressed that although the statewide task force effort was conducted over a seven-day period, law enforcement organizations work every day to combat sex trafficking.
"We know that the sex trade is a prolific one that exists throughout this state and throughout our nation," Moore said. "It's an ugly scar against this great country that exists too oftentimes in plain sight."