SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — CBS2 went on a police ride-along in Santa Ana as authorities set out to bust prostitutes and pimps.
Residents who live in the Harbor Boulevard area say the location has been a problem for some time.
Police were hoping that the increased police presence and arrests will make a dent in the problem.
On Thursday evening, CBS2’s Stacey Butler was there during the sting. On Friday evening, she spoke to residents and church members who handed out information to the women — about getting out of the sex trade — and the men who purchased sex.
Cameras rolled when one woman didn’t like being taken into custody.
“You’re illegally arresting me!” she screamed. “Can you get that camera off of me? You’re not allowed to film me.”
She was arrested on suspicion of intent to solicit prostitution.
Police say women like the ones we photographed are flocking to the Harbor Boulevard area — from all over the country.
Police say the word is out.
“They know that in Orange County they will get paid a little bit more than any other county here in the state,” an undercover officer told Butler.
Officials said a large number of the women they arrested had prior arrests and warrants for prostitution in other counties.
Residents were just glad to see police doing something.
“Finally! Finally, they take them,” said Ana Santa Cruz.
Mom Ana Vergara said she has trouble letting her kids play in her own yard.
“You get broken glasses, you get needles, you get condoms. The little ones think it’s trash and they will grab it by mistake,” says Vergara.
She said on most nights, there are so many men out in her neighborhood propositioning prostitutes she can’t get into her garage.
“There’s just so many cars. It’s like being at Disneyland. That’s how much traffic there is,” she said.
Neighbors said it happens whenever it gets dark.
“We put the kids inside. Because we know what the daily routine is,” said Ruben Carillo.
Police told Butler they’ve recently added 24 officers and plan to use many of them to continue to crack down on the prostitution problem.
Many of the women denied to police they were working for pimps — authorities said the men were their major target.
Even with denial, the church members told Butler they would continue to try to “help the girls” and try to get their customers to choose a different life.