LAPD Arrests 198 People In Connection With Human Trafficking, Rescues 18

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The LAPD says they arrested 198 people in connection with human trafficking last week, including 6 alleged pimps, and rescued 18 trafficking victims.

Between January 18 and January 23, the LAPD arrested six alleged pimps, 198 possible human trafficking suspects and rescued six adults and 12 children who were believed to have been trafficked, according to a release from the LAPD. The minors were placed in protective custody, and all were connected with victim services.

The operation was called Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, and coincided with National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. It involved officers of the LAPD Detective Support and Vice Division, Human Trafficking Unit; LASD Human Trafficking Task Force; and the FBI Innocence Lost Task Force.

Another release from the L.A. County District Attorney's Office stated that Bobby Joe King, 23, was arrested and charged with 20 felony counts related to human trafficking, alongside James Mark, 26, who was charged with 10 felony counts related to human trafficking. They will both be arraigned on February 9.

King and Mark accused of trafficking one 20-year-old woman and two 15-year-old girls throughout Los Angeles and Long Beach. According to Deputy District Attorney Troy Davis, King met the 20-year-old woman online and the two ended up meeting in person a few months later in Long Beach. At this meeting, King allegedly raped the woman, then forced her into prostitution and made her get a tattoo of his pimp name. Prosectors say that King also kidnapped a 15-year-old girl at gunpoint at a Los Angeles park, then forced her into prostitution as well. He is also accused of raping the girl multiple times.

Mark is accused of trying to get both victims to work for him as a prostitute, too. King and Mark are also both accused of pimping another 15-year-old girl in Los Angeles.

If convicted, King faced a possible life sentence without the possibility of parole and Mark faces up to 50 years in prison.

L.A. Councilmember Nury Martinez and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas are meeting with police and local organizations, plus officials from CSUN and Strength United, a CSUN organization that seeks to end abuse and violence, at the school to discuss human trafficking in the San Fernando Valley.

Kim Roth, the executive director of Strength United, said that California is "a magnet" for the trafficking of children. "Three of the nation's 13 high intensity child prostitution areas are identified by the FBI are located in California: San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas," Roth said via release. "Given the challenges unique to commercially sexually exploited children, the efforts put forth by the panel presenters will help each of us improve how we identify and respond to those who need our help most."