A statewide crackdown on human trafficking from late January into early this month led to nearly 20 arrests and the rescue of several victims in Silicon Valley, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office announced this week.
The sheriff’s spearheaded “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild” over a weeklong period that culminated Feb. 1 with help from police in San Jose, Sunnyvale and Milpitas, sheriff’s spokeswoman Deputy Jessica Gabaldon told reporters in a news release Thursday.
The Santa Clara County Law Enforcement to Investigate Human Trafficking (LEIHT) Task Force arrested 16 johns, identified five victims and caught four sex offenders who failed to keep up with their registration requirements. Authorities also booked 36-year-old Issac Lee into jail on suspicion of trafficking women into sex work.
Authorities accuse Lee of bringing a victim from another state to the South Bay to pimp her out. Police say Lee promised to bring the woman back to her family. After the task force intervened, they reportedly connected the victim with YWCA Silicon Vally and Community Solutions, which helped reunite the woman with her loved ones.
Lee is being held on $125,000 bail at the Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas on charges of human trafficking, pimping and pandering.
Law enforcement involved in the operation reported a total of 518 arrests statewide—27 f them for human trafficking and 266 for soliciting paid sex. Police say they also identified 76 adult victims and 11 children, who were put in touch with advocates.
The county urges anyone who witnesses signs of human trafficking to call the LEIHT Task Force at 408.918.4960 or email them at [email protected].