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Sex trafficking probe leads to 48 arrests in National City

A monthlong anti-human trafficking operation targeting suspected traffickers and prospective commercial sex customers resulted in 48 arrests in San Diego and National City, authorities announced Tuesday.

Operation Better Pathways, which was held between Jan. 9 and Feb. 10, involved law enforcement surveillance of "areas known for sexual exploitation in San Diego and National City."

Undercover officers posed as people offering sex for sale, resulting in the four dozen arrests for alleged crimes ranging from human trafficking of a minor to assault with a deadly weapon. Additionally, 41 other people — including eight children — were offered support services as a result of the operation.


Those arrested are being referred for possible state and/or federal criminal prosecution, according to the California Attorney General's Office.

In a statement, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephen said, "I personally visited the National City and San Diego City locations that this operation targeted and what I saw was appalling. 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."

More than 1,300 human trafficking cases were reported in 2021 in California, more than any other state, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The California Attorney General's Office statement on Operation Better Pathways states that human trafficking is prevalent in the hospitality, commercial sex, domestic work and construction industries, and victims are also found among migrant and seasonal agricultural workers, providers of residential care and in California's garment sector.

Sex trafficking probe leads to 48 arrests in National City

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