Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Phoenix joined a multi-agency collaborative effort aimed at confronting and reducing human trafficking-related crimes in the valley.
The Phoenix Police Department’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit (HEAT) spearheaded the two-phase approach beginning in January through February. The Phoenix HEAT unit worked with human trafficking units from Scottsdale, Glendale, Mesa, Tempe, HSI and FBI to address the problem in the greater Phoenix area. This joint operation was conducted in Scottsdale and Phoenix and resulted in 118 arrests related to prostitution, luring, pandering, escort service violations, and warrants. The focus was on hotel prostitution and street prostitution enforcement.
The operation brought together special agents, officers, detectives, victim advocates, and criminal analysts.
Other highlights worth noting include:
- Three of the subjects arrested had outstanding felony warrants; one of which was for homicide out of Texas.
- One individual was arrested after they agreed to meet believing they were paying to have a sexual encounter with an underage male.
- Several possible traffickers were identified, and follow-up investigations are pending.
- At least 70 individuals were offered services to help get out of being involved in prostitution and human trafficking.
This was a large-scale operation with a variety of moving parts. It’s success was made possible by the hard work and cooperation of all the agencies involved. The combined efforts of the agencies are part of a nationwide effort to eliminate human and sex trafficking.
If you have information about someone being trafficked, contact your local police department or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 or humantraffickinghotline.org.