Operation Human Freight

CENTRALIA — Washington State Patrol in partnership with the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, arrested 10 people during "Operation Human Freight."

During the six hour operation Tuesday, detectives arrested individuals for second-degree promoting prostitution, local warrants for arrest and for possession of methamphetamine.

During the one-day operation, undercover detectives rescued people caught up in human trafficking and prostitution.

“This is a positive collaborative effort to end the vicious cycle of human trafficking,” WSP Chief John R. Batiste said. “This operation not only helps protect the victims of human trafficking but also safeguards our communities from criminal activity.”

Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza said the successful operation affects human trafficking in the area and is an example of the great working partnerships among law enforcement in our area.

“This operation allowed us the ability to reach out and offer support and resources to victims, and hold those who facilitate these crimes accountable for their actions," Snaza said.

On Tuesday afternoon detectives set up at a Lewis County Truck Stop along Interstate 5. The location was chosen because it’s believed to be a high-traffic area.

Officers were searching for both suspects promoting prostitution and victims of human trafficking. Within six hours, officers found five women who appeared to be victims of prostitution and probable victims of human trafficking.

The state patrol said the goal of the operation was to rescue young girls caught up in the cycle of prostitution and human trafficking. Advocates from the FBI were on-scene to provide food, water, services and contact information for all victims.

State patrol officials said detectives will continue their investigations into these crimes which could result in additional arrests and criminal charges. 

The operation was the second of its kind in the state. It involved a collaborative effort between agencies, including the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office, Centralia Police Department, Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team, Lakewood Police Department, FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and Washington State Patrol.

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