San Jose police arrested 14 people in two prostitution stings last week and rescued a 16-year-old girl who said she started working as a prostitute at age 11, a police spokesman said today. The San Jose Police Department’s human trafficking task force made the arrests in part by using undercover officers who posed as “johns,” or customers, police spokesman Officer Albert Morales said. The operations were carried out along a section of Monterey Highway that stretches from South First Street outside downtown about a mile south, to Umbarger Road, Morales said.
On Wednesday, police arrested eight adults on prostitution-related charges. In such stings, the officers typically drive up in cars “waiting to see if people approach and solicit,” Morales said. Friday’s effort focused on finding underage prostitutes, and officers arrested four male customers, two female adult prostitutes, and took a 16-year-old girl into protective custody, Morales said. The girl, who is from the East Bay, told officers she had been a prostitute since she was 11, and police are following up on who may be responsible, Morales said.
Children under 18 are protected from arrest under federal anti-human trafficking laws, but adults can also be considered victims of human trafficking, Morales said. “If they are forced into prostitution, technically they are victims of prostitution instead of suspects,” he said. Of the 14 people arrested last week, four were male “johns” suspected of seeking out the services of a prostitute, Morales said. Those detained on prostitution charges are usually cited and released after officers confirm their identities, he said.
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