The County Sheriff’s Office busted a Modesto man on suspicion of human trafficking after they rescued a pregnant, 31-year-old woman who was being pimped locally.

According to Sheriff’s Spokesman, Tony Cipolla, on Aug. 18 investigators with the Sheriff’s Counter Human Trafficking Team “conducted a proactive operation to rescue a potential human trafficking victim. The victim was pregnant, commercially sexually exploited, and controlled by a trafficker. Through an undercover prostitution sting the female was contacted and a male counterpart was identified.”

The suspect, identified as Anthony Richardson Gaines, 33 of Modesto, Calif., was released from custody due to the State’s no-bail policy, the need for follow-up investigations, and COVID-19 concerns.

“After a follow-up investigation,” Cipolla said, “the Counter Human Trafficking investigators were able to secure an arrest warrant for Richardson Gaines for the crimes of human trafficking, pimping, and a prison prior enhancement.”

On Aug. 18, with the assistance of the Modesto Police Department Investigations Division and the non-profit organization DeliverFund, Cipolla said Richardson Gaines was arrested in Modesto and was extradited and booked into the SLO County Jail.

The human trafficking squad is a new and unique operation. “The Sheriff’s Counter Human Trafficking Team,” Cipolla said, “is a partnership between the Sheriff’s Special Operations Unit, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigations and the District Attorney’s Victim Witness Division.”

The Team, he added, “primarily targets victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The Counter Human Trafficking Team has been operational since January 2020 and has focused its attention on proactively targeting traffickers who sexually exploit victims, sex purchasers who drive demand, and providing resources to the victims of exploitation.”

The Counter Human Trafficking Team also trains law enforcement and a wide variety of community partners.