Human trafficking bust results in 48 arrests

Police tape surrounds a crime scene. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Police tape surrounds a crime scene. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

OAN Roy Francis
8:22 AM PT – Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Authorities in San Diego announced that a month-long operation has led to the arrest of 48 individuals that were involved in human trafficking on Tuesday.

The operation, called Operation Better Pathways, was a month-long anti-human trafficking operation that was conducted between January 9th and February 10th. The operation included undercover officers in “areas known for sexual exploitation” in the San Diego area.

The charges being brought against those arrested range from human trafficking of a minor, to assault with a deadly weapon. According to the California Attorney General’s Office, those arrested await possible state and/or federal criminal prosecution.

Operation Better Pathways also led to the rescue of 41 victims, including eight children, with the youngest being 13 years old.

“The youngest victim rescued during this operation was 13 years old,” San Diego Police Department Chief David Nisleit said. “She was seen walking the street and waiting for someone to pick her up and buy sex from her. Officers rescued her and she was reunited with her family.”

The other victims included two teenagers who had ran away from their homes in Arizona, and a pregnant 21-year-old.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephen released a statement about the operation and the results.

“I personally visited the National City and San Diego City locations that this operation targeted and what I saw was appalling,” she said. “Young women being openly trafficked in broad daylight, with individuals paying for sex lined up like they were going through a fast-food drive thru.”

Human trafficking cases in California are higher than any other state, with 1,300 cases being reported which involved over 2,100 victims in 2021, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

In recent years, the number of children that are rescued from human trafficking has also been growing. In 2021, there were 28 children rescued, in 2021 that number rose to 36.

The California Attorney General’s Office stated that human trafficking is “prevalent in the hospitality, commercial sex, domestic work and construction industries” with most victims being “among migrant and seasonal agricultural workers, providers of residential care.”