A four-day long sting operation netted 21 arrests last week, 10 charged with felonies related to contacting minors to arrange sex.
Another 11 people were charged with misdemeanors during Operation Stolen Hearts, according to KMPH, mostly on charges such as loitering for prostitution.
The Department of Homeland Security assisted with the operation.
Fresno police said they also rescued 10 women or girls who were being trafficked and set them up with Breaking the Chains, a Fresno organization that assists trafficked people with addiction treatment, counseling, job training, and more.
“They’re threatened, their children are threatened, their families are threatened, they have nowhere else to go,” Fresno Police Captain Mindy Castro said. “They’re brainwashed and manipulated by the pimps, for lack of a better term, that are trafficking them. A lot of times, they don’t know any different because they’re just trapped in that life and they don’t know any different and they really don’t see a way out.”
Castro said that some of the men arrested already had felony convictions on their records and had guns when they were taken into custody, adding another charge.
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[Featured image: Top, L-R: Rosendo Rodriguez, Luis Martinez, Fabian Perez, Carlos Hernandez, and Lawrence Moore. Bottom, L-R: Juan Alberto Martinez, Carlos Orozco, Simradeep Singh, Cristobal Hernandez, and Paul Espinosa/Fresno Police Department]