An ongoing Richmond Police Department crack down on 23rd Street prostitution led to the rescue last month of a 17-year-old Sebastapol girl who was the victim of human trafficking, police said Thursday.
Officer conducting surveillance during a sting operation on 23rd Street on Feb. 16 watched the girl get into a car of a suspected customer, police said. Officers conducted a traffic stop on the car and asked the female passenger to get out.
“The girl told the officer her friend was involved in an argument with her boyfriend, and she decided to catch ride home, even though she didn’t know the driver,” police said.
After more questioning, the girl ran off, but the officer chased her and successfully detained her after a brief struggle, police said.
“The officer learned that the girl was actually 17 yrs old from Sebastapol and only possessed condoms and makeup in her purse,” police said.
The driver who picked her up, a 32-year-old from Richmond, told officers conflicting stories and finally decided upon one where he had dinner at a local restaurant and decided to give the girl a ride home, police said.
“He said he always offers rides to girls he sees on the street and claimed that he didn’t know how old the girl was,” police said.
The driver was arrested for prostitution and the girl’s guardians were contacted and she was eventually released to them.
Two weeks prior, another police sting on 23rd rescued a separate 17-year-old human trafficking victim and led to the arrest her pimp, police said.
“We appreciate the efforts of our officers and detectives who continue to combat the Human Trafficking problem that is prevalent along the 23rd St. corridor by conducting numerous undercover operations,” police said.