A major sting operation led by special agents from ICE and the East Valley Human Trafficking Taskforce has resulted in 18 arrests.
Special agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations worked alongside the East Valley Human Trafficking Taskforce (EVHTTF) in conducting a two day “Buyer Reduction” operation.
The EVHTTF is a taskforce dedicated to reducing human sex trafficking and crime in Arizona’s East Valley.
The operation took place in Arizona, and therefore was led primarily by the Mesa Police Department, though the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and police departments from both Scottsdale and Tempe were also involved in the investigation.
A staging area was created in the vicinity of South Country Club Drive and US 60 in Mesa, Arizona on August 5th and 6th. In that area, law enforcement conducted online chats offering prostitution services in order to identify and arrest customers of sex trafficking victims.
Each of the 18 men who were arrested during the two day operation outright solicited adult prostitution. One of the men, identified as Bob Chen, was also charged with attempting sexual conduct with a minor, child prostitution with a minor under the age of 15, prostitution, and money laundering.
The Mesa Police Department celebrated the success of the operation in a post on Twitter, writing: “East Valley Human Trafficking Task Force Operation had a successful weekend, read about it on our blog!”
— Mesa Police Dept. (@MesaPD) August 12, 2021
Homeland Security Investigations has encouraged the public to report any suspected child predators or other suspicious activity to its toll-free tip line (1-866-DHS-2-ICE) or through its online tip form.