UPDATE: Seven arrested in human trafficking sting operation

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Officers with the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, along with deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, carried out a human trafficking operation in a Valencia-area hotel Tuesday, arresting seven adults.

The sting operation was the latest in a series of regular raids carried out by the task force over the past couple of years.

Lt. Dan Stanley, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Human Trafficking Bureau, who led Tuesday night’s operation, described the ongoing efforts to curb human trafficking as a “three-prong approach.”

“First, we identify the victims and rescue those victims,” he said. “Second, we identify the suspects and prosecute them. And third, we try to curb the demand for commercial sex.

“This operation,” he said, referring to Tuesday night, “was a demand operation — to curb the demand for commercial sex in that area.”

Stanley said he would not identify the Valencia hotel specifically.

“We conduct operations all over the county,” he said. “We never know how many (suspects) we’re going to get.

“But absolutely, it was a success,” he said.

Stanley said he and his team were contacted by about 50 people responding to a sexually suggestive ad.

In the end, seven people were arrested.

Jerome Roberson, 32, of Bakersfield, was arrested after arranging with an undercover deputy sheriff to work for him as a commercial sex worker, sheriff’s officials said in a prepared statement.

Roberson was booked at the SCV station on felony charges of pandering, LASD officials said in a news release issued late Wednesday afternoon.

Five men were arrested after responding to sexually suggestive ads placed on several internet sites, the statement said, adding that each of the men agreed to meet undercover sheriff’s deputies at a local hotel for the purposes of commercial sex.

One woman was arrested after arriving at a local hotel and soliciting sex for money from an undercover male detective, the news release said.   

All those arrested during this operation were transported to and booked at the SCV Sheriff’s Station on prostitution charges.

Suspects arrested on suspicion of prostitution included a 39-year-old Moorpark man, identified by arresting deputies as working for a “text startup” company.

Other suspects arrested on the same suspicion included a 23-year-old construction worker who lives in Sylmar and a 22-year-old fork lift operator from Northridge.

The operation included task force partners from the Los Angeles Unified School District Police Department and the Los Angeles County Probation Department.

In October, Stanley and the task force carried out a human trafficking operation that led to the arrest of two men on men on felony charges — one a Newhall resident, the other a Studio City man.

The arrest of both men was the result of a “saturation patrol” carried out by the SCV Sheriff’s Station, Stanley said at the time.

Both suspects were arrested at the time, according to Sheriff’s Department records. A 34-year-old unemployed resident of Newhall was arrested on suspicion of pimping.

[email protected] 661-287-5527 On Twitter: @jamesarthurholt

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