OCEANSIDE — Federal funds allowed law enforcement agencies nationwide to crack down on prostitution on June 19 and June 20.
During the two-day Operation Cross Country effort, Oceanside police and FBI agents made 11 arrests, taking in one pimp with gang affiliations, five johns and five adult prostitutes.
Lt. Adam Knowland said prostitution is an ongoing problem nationwide. Any day of the week law enforcement officers can follow online ads and make arrests.
“It’s a big problem like any other crime,” Knowland said.
Because a great deal of prostitution operates through the Internet it requires more detailed investigation and more effort by law enforcement to make an arrest.
Oceanside police actively address the problem on an ongoing basis.
The benefit of additional funds allowed the department to focus more man-hours on the problem.
The crime is a misdemeanor and carries the penalty of one year in prison and an approximately $1,000 fine. First-time offenders may receive probation.
To further curtail prostitution, legislation is being finalized that will have prostitution carry a gang enhancement penalty, and pack a bigger punishment for johns who have gang affiliations.
Another intervention is that social services are offered to prostitutes who want to get out of the lifestyle.
“We want to get to these girls, and get them into safety,” Lt. Leonard Cosby said. “Many are underage, some are only 12 or 13. The goal is to get them out of the lifestyle and to a safe place.”
Cosby said juveniles are frequently groomed by pimps, who take on a boyfriend role and ask the young girls to perform prostitution as an act of love and commitment in order to bring in money.
Getting help from social service programs is voluntary. Cosby said some girls go back home. Others are encouraged by family to participate in rehabilitation counseling programs.
“They have the option to speak to someone about how to get out of
it,” Knowland said. “They can get help to have a life and get out, if they’re trying to get out.”
One hundred law enforcement agencies took part in Operation Cross Country nationwide.