UCPD assists with Newark prostitution sting

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UCPD joined forces with other Alameda County agencies to assist in an operation geared toward child-prostitute recovery last Thursday.

The Alameda County Vice Enforcement Team — a countywide vice team coordinated by Hayward Police Detective Ryan Cantrell — conducted a recovery prostitution operation at a motel in Newark, Calif., from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The investigation hoped to help identify and locate sexually exploited minors and then remove them from that environment, according to Hayward Police Department Lt. Roger Keener.

The campus police department served as an arrest team during the operation, said UCPD Lt. Eric Tejada.

During a “call-out” operation, members of police departments will look for people advertising themselves online — such as on SafeBook or Craigslist — and ask them to meet at a hotel, Keener said. This operation yielded eight arrests total.

Keener said these types of operations are very important. Many times, juveniles find themselves on the street for a variety of reasons, he said. Pimps can then catch them in a vulnerable stage and take them in. The children are then forced into prostitution as a way to “pay off their debt to the pimp,” Keener said.

“If we turn a blind eye to prostitution, we really wouldn’t recover these juveniles,” Keener said.

Although there were no children recovered, the department still viewed this as a success, Keener said. Seven females were arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor solicitation, with one female additionally charged with possession of cocaine, according to Newark Detective Sgt. Manuel Deserpa. According to a Hayward Police Department press release, one male was arrested on felony charges of pimping.

Tejada said the campus department has used the relationship with the vice enforcement team for operations in Berkeley and has assisted in operations several times. The partnership allows UCPD to use outside agencies to help the department, including with alcohol issues, according to Tejada.

“We want to be one of the resources that the county can count on,” Tejada said.

Over the summer, some UC Berkeley students expressed concern over the vice enforcement team after police officers from other agencies handed out citations to underage students drinking at the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

Chloe Hunt covers crime. Contact her at [email protected].