LSO: 15 people arrested in year long sex trafficking investigation

By: Channel 8 Eyewitness Newsroom

Press Release from Lancaster County Sheriff Office

We are pleased to announce the conclusion of a very lengthy and significant investigation involving International Human Trafficking suspects operating in and throughout the Midwest.  This complex investigation focused on the use of Internet based websites such as Backpage and City Vibe, which offered erotic massage and escort services of Asian females.  The ads were determined to serve as covers for prostitution services offered in dozens of U.S. cities, the investigation, dubbed "Operation Extended Stay" spanned over a year, and came to a conclusion on the 10th of April 2018 with Federal and local law enforcement choreographing the simultaneous service of multiple search warrants for operations in:

  • Omaha, NE
  • Bakersfield, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Orlando, FL
  • Lafayette, LA
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Kansas City, MO

This investigation was completed in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security (HSI) and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Respective investigative entities from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Nebraska State Patrol, Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wichita Police Department, enlisted the use of undercover officers and the application of hundreds of man hours of investigative work conducting physical and electronic surveillance preparing subpoenas, search warrants, and data analysis concerning the complicated communication and financial network backing the bases of operation.  The "Omaha Model" was advanced to all branches participating in the effort as the template for success. The communal efforts were successful in identifying and arresting fifteen of Asian females, whose travel and client communication was well coordinated by call centers based in Florida and California.  Multiple other Asian female "contractors" were also identified.  Additional criminal charges are expected for at least three Asian men/women "owners".  Interviews with known participants expressed varying levels of motivation for their participation/investment in the business.  As expected, Investigators were able to identify numerous assets obtained directly from the application of illicit funds from prostitution in the form of banks accounts, safety deposit boxes, jewelry, gold bullion, investment portfolios, residences, and vehicles.  Preliminary estimates place assets between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000.  Special gratitude is extended to Creighton University and the members of the team participating in the Creighton Study on Human Trafficking.