Editor’s Note: CNN Freedom Project this week is reporting from the front lines in the fight against sex trafficking - not in the poverty-stricken developing world but in affluent Orange County near Los Angeles, where prostitutes are now treated as trafficking victims rather than criminals.
By Martin Savidge
Anaheim, California (CNN) - It feels odd to be in a car sat next to a guy texting a pimp. Even more odd, he's pretending to be a prostitute. It can all get a little strange in the digital pursuit of human traffickers.
I'm sitting in the front seat of an SUV in a part of Orange County, California only the locals see - where the hotels are not chains and have names that cops and criminals alike know well. The "prostitute" beside me is actually Sergeant Craig Friesen.
Nearby, either parked or patrolling, are four other vehicles holding the rest of his undercover team.
Earlier, we saw a pickup truck in a parking lot across the street approaching several women. The guy wasn't having much luck - which was too bad since he was on Friesen's crew.