Press Release: Alameda County D. A. Announces a Major Operation Against Large-scale Prostitution Ring in Berkeley and Throughout the Bay Area.

From the Alameda County District Attorney's Office
Friday January 21, 2011 - 02:31:00 PM

On January 20, 2011, a team of 125 law enforcement personnel assisted the Hayward Police Department (HPD) in serving search and arrest warrants at ten locations in Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties. Participating agencies include Hayward, Oakland, Berkeley, Sunnyvale, Newark, Danville, and San Jose Police Departments, Contra Costa and Santa Clara County Sheriffs Offices, California Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office (ACDAO). Yesterday’s joint effort was intended as both an enforcement and rescue operation. Eight people were arrested for their role in operating the ring. Ten adult females were recovered, provided with support services, and all but one taken into custody. Asian Community Mental Health, Standing Against Global Exploitation, Bay Area Women Against Rape, Women Inc., Community Violence Solutions and an ACDAO H.E.A.T. (Human Exploitation and Trafficking) Unit advocate participated in the operation. The investigation as well efforts to further identify victims and suspects is ongoing. 

This operation is the culmination of a year-long investigation by HPD uncovering a sophisticated ring of brothels where scores of immigrant Asian women were exploited to further the ring’s lucrative enterprise. The investigation began when an HPD patrol officer looked into neighborhood complaints of suspected prostitution in a local residence. Attentive HPD officers eventually uncovered evidence supporting the claim. An in-depth undercover investigation ensued, establishing that the home in question was a clandestine brothel and part of a larger ring of similar brothels. Investigators estimate dozens of women have been brought into the United States from Taiwan and China, placed on the prostitution circuit in this country, and cycled through these targeted Bay Area brothels. In addition to crimes associated with operating brothels, investigators continue to determine the degree to which human exploitation and trafficking is involved in procuring and enslaving the women recovered from these brothels.  

H.E.A.T. is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in this country. ACDAO’s award-winning H.E.A.T. Watch Program is nationally acknowledged as a model response. Recognizing that H.E.A.T. knows no borders – locally, nationally, or internationally – heads of all 29 Alameda County law enforcement agencies as well as San Francisco and Contra Costa county law enforcement leaders, joined ACDAO last July as committed participants in H.E.A.T. Watch. Yesterday’s multi-agency operation, stemming from the HPD investigation, is a testament to this regional commitment. “This is a historic operation because so many agencies from all over the Bay Area came together under the umbrella of H.E.A.T. Watch for what represents the first multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency Regional H.E.A.T. Watch operation. Efforts of this magnitude and this degree of collaboration by local, state and federal law enforcement and service providers are unprecedented and bode well for future efforts to successfully combat the H.E.A.T. epidemic plaguing our region,” said Sharmin Bock, Assistant District Attorney in Charge of Special Operations and Policy Development.