SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A widespread prostitution sting spanning Sacramento County took place Wednesday night, designed to crack down on human trafficking.
This was the biggest operation in the county's history, according to the sheriff's department, when it comes to the number of agencies involved and the number of separate operations going on simultaneously.READ MORE: Newsom: Some State Workers Will Not Return To Downtown Sacramento Offices
The focus was on catching "Johns"—those swapping cash for sex. Investigators say they are the driving force helping fuel this human trafficking issue.
Hours before the operation, briefings were held by the five main agencies conducting stings, including the Sacramento Sheriff's, Sacramento Police, Citrus Heights Police, Folsom Police and the Rancho Cordova Police departments. Each team prepared its officers for a series of undercover targets.
"It's absolutely over-the-top how easy it is to bring in a John, people are looking for easy sex, easy company and they'll pay whatever it takes to get it," said Emily, an undercover sheriff's deputy, dressed in street clothes, putting on her makeup.
Out of uniform, Emily was working the streets in a different way.
She was one of about two-dozen officers posing as prostitutes, luring the men who drive the underground economy of the human trafficking crisis — a part of the equation investigators say is often ignored.
"They're the ones with all the money, they're the ones that fuel this whole thing," said Sheriff's Det. John Sydow.
Detective Sydow allowed CBS13's cameras inside one of the tinted vans posted up in some of Sacramento's hot spots off of Watt Avenue north of Interstate 80, and in South Sacramento off of Stockton Boulevard. That operation was lead by Sacramento police.READ MORE: Sacramento Authorities Hope Recent Illegal Fireworks Arrest Shows Department Means Business With Crackdown
"Once we end up with that offer of acceptance—sex in exchange for money—and the person does something like driving where the woman tells him to drive, that's usually enough," said Sydow.
For hours, the undercover cops walked through the parking lot as John after John kept circling.
In one instance, radio chatter could be heard pinpointing a minivan that had pulled up, motioning for the girls to come over. After chatting it up with the decoys, the man made a deal and that's all it took.
As the man drove around the corner, that simple deal he made — with no exchange of money — led to an immediate arrest.
Around the county, similar arrests were made throughout the night. There were also hotel stings happening at the same time.
All this was an effort to go after the demand — the customers — who pay into the supply that has become an epidemic in communities around the country.
The hope is to get these perpetrators off our streets and send a strong message.
"That we're not gonna tolerate this here, our law enforcement isn't going to tolerate it, and we're gonna continue to do these operations, and hopefully get the results that we want," said Sydow.MORE NEWS: Body Of Teen Who Went Missing While Swimming In American River Found
Meanwhile, the Sacramento County district attorney is set to release final results and arrest numbers of the countywide operation Thursday morning.