The Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit

About The Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit

The Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit (HEAT) was created by the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) in response to the passage of Proposition 35, which increased the penalty for human trafficking and reformed human trafficking laws.

Human exploitation and trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise globally at $150 billion global business – worth more than the profits of Apple, Amazon, Chase, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart – combined.  Human traffickers and pimps often use social media to target, groom, and recruit victims to sexually exploit for financial gain. Once recruited, the victims are often branded, trafficked, isolated, and forced to turn over their earnings through physical force and/or duress.

The HEAT Unit works closely with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF) to proactively protect women and minors from falling victim to commercial sexual exploitation.

The OCHTTF is a partnership between;

  • Anaheim Police Department
  • California Highway Patrol
  • Irvine Police Department
  • Orange County District Attorney’s Office
  • Orange County Probation Department
  • Orange County Social Services Agency
  • Other community and non-profit partners.
  • Santa Ana Police Department
  • US Attorney’s Office

The HEAT Unit takes a comprehensive approach to end modern-day slavery through a tactical plan called “PERP.”  The PERP model aims to achieve vigorous Prosecution of human trafficking and exploitation crimes, Education of law enforcement, students and community members, Resources from public-private partnerships to raise awareness about the crime and Publicity about these crimes.

Common Penal Code Sections that apply in these cases include PC Sections 266h –  Pimping, 266i – Pandering, 236.1 – Human Trafficking, and 236.4 – GBI in Human Trafficking.  

Gang Injunctions

Gang injunctions are civil court orders that restrict the public activities of active participants of criminal street gangs in defined areas called “safety zones.” Gang injunctions are used to abate the nuisance activities of criminal street gangs in order to create a safe environment for the people who work and live in that protected area.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has worked diligently to adopt a gang injunction process that ensures the rights of individuals are protected while at the same time safeguarding the needs of our communities.

The OCDA is committed to providing gang injunction information in an easy to understand format in both English and Spanish. This approach has been adopted to ensure people who are already part of the gang injunction can easily understand the process of petitioning to remove their names.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is in the process of developing an assistance program to help people fill out the necessary forms to petition for their removal from a gang injunction. If someone can properly demonstrate that they should not be part of an Orange County gang injunction, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office will go through the legal process to remove them. In fact, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has already successfully petitioned to remove more than 500 individuals.

Individuals are added to gang injunctions only after a vigorous vetting process by the District Attorney’s Office and a hearing before a Superior Court judge. The judge makes the determination of whether an individual is an active participant of a criminal street gang based on the evidence and can therefore properly be served with the gang injunction.

Individuals who wish to be removed from a gang injunction for any reason can contact the District Attorney’s Office directly to request to be removed or they can go through the Orange County Superior Court. Bilingual removal forms are available on the District Attorney website to assist in the removal process. The forms can be filled out and returned to the District Attorney’s office along with any supporting documents an individual wishes to be considered for their removal.

If you have any questions, please email

Los mandatos judiciales contra pandillas

Los mandatos judiciales contra pandillas son órdenes judiciales civiles que restringen las actividades públicas de los participantes activos de pandillas callejeras en áreas definidas como "zonas de seguridad". Los mandatos judiciales contra pandillas se utilizan para reducir las actividades molestas de las pandillas callejeras con el fin de crear un entorno seguro para las personas que trabajan y viven en esa área protegida.

La Oficina del Fiscal de Distrito del Condado de Orange ha trabajado diligentemente para adoptar un proceso del mandamiento judicial contra pandillas que garantiza la protección de los derechos de individuos y, al mismo tiempo, salvaguardar las necesidades de nuestras comunidades.

La Oficina del Fiscal de Distrito del Condado de Orange se compromete a proveer información sobre mandatos judiciales contra pandillas en una forma que es fácil de entender tanto en Español como en Inglés. Este enfoque se ha adoptado para garantizar que personas que ya son parte de los mandatos judiciales contra pandillas puedan entender fácilmente el proceso de petición para remover sus nombres.

La Oficina del Fiscal de Distrito del Condado de Orange está en proceso de desarrollar un programa de asistencia para ayudar a personas a completar los formularios necesarios para solicitar removerlos del mandato judicial contra pandillas. Si alguien puede demostrar adecuadamente que no debe ser parte de un mandato judicial contra pandillas del Condado de Orange, La Oficina del Fiscal de Distrito del Condado de Orange pasará por el proceso legal para destituirlo. De hecho, la Oficina del Fiscal de Distrito del Condado de Orange ya ha solicitado con éxito remover más de 500 personas.

Individuos se agregan a los mandatos judiciales contra pandillas solamente después de un proceso de investigación vigoroso de parte de la Oficina del Fiscal de Distrito del Condado de Orange e una audiencia ante un juez de la Corte Superior. El juez determina si un individuo es un participante activo de una pandilla callejera criminal basado en la evidencia y, por lo tanto, se le puede adecuadamente entregar un mandato civil contra la pandilla.

Individuos que por alguna razón desean ser removidos de un mandato judicial contra pandillas pueden comunicarse con la Oficina del Fiscal de Distrito directamente para solicitar su removimiento, o pueden ir al Tribunal Superior del Condado de Orange. Los formularios bilingües de removimiento están disponibles en el sitio web del Fiscal de Distrito para ayudar en el proceso de removimiento. Los formularios se pueden completar y devolver a la oficina del Fiscal de Distrito junto con cualquier documento de apoyo que un individuo desee considerar para su removimiento. 

Si tiene alguna pregunta, por favor envíe un correo electrónico a

Street Terrorism Enforcement & Prevention (STEP) Act

The Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention (STEP) Act was enacted in 1988 by the California legislature, with the stated intent “to seek the eradication of criminal activity by street gangs by focusing upon patterns of criminal gang activity and upon the organized nature of street gangs.”  

The STEP Act encompasses substantive charges of violations of the Penal Code, as well as special allegations which subject gang members who commit crimes to additional punishment. 

According to Section 186.22 (a) of the Penal Code, “any person who actively participates in any criminal street gang with knowledge that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity, and who willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang” may be punished, not only for the underlying felony committed but also with up to three additional years in state prison.

A “criminal street gang” is defined as any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons having as one of its primary activities the commission of one or more of the twenty five enumerated crimes, having a common name and whose members engage in a pattern of criminal gang activity.

Penal Code Section 186.22(e) defines a “pattern of criminal gang activity” as the commission of two or more of a list of thirty-three enumerated crimes, including;

  • Murder 
  • Robbery 
  • Shooting from a vehicle 
  • Burglary 
  • Kidnapping 
  • Rape 
  • Arson 
  • Felony vandalism 
  • Firearms possessions 
  • Making criminal threats.

The special allegation, defined in Section 186.22 (b) of the Penal Code, enhances the penalty by an additional two years or up to an additional 10 years, depending on whether the underlying felony conviction is a serious or violent crime.  This allegation applies if the person committed the felony “for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members.”

In addition, if the special allegation defined in Section 186.22 (b) is found to be true, and any one of the charged gang members personally uses a firearm in the commission of certain felonies, including robbery, carjacking, attempted murder, and murder, then all of his accomplices, although unarmed, are vicariously liable for the use of the gun and each may be sentenced to an additional and consecutive term of 10 years, 20 years, or 25 years to life in state prison.  If the gun is merely displayed, then an additional penalty of 10 years may be added.  If the gun is discharged, then an additional penalty of 20 years may be added.  If the gun is discharged and someone is seriously injured or killed, then an additional 25 years to life may be added to the sentence of each gang member, over and above the penalty imposed for the underlying felony conviction.

Notable Cases 2019-2020

As a matter of policy the OCDA does not identify gangs or its members by name because they view any notoriety as a matter of pride and feel it increases their status.


Two gang members drove into rival gang territory while armed and looking for trouble. In this same area were three young girls ages 5, 7 and 9.  The young girls were playing on the sidewalk in front of their home. The gang members saw rivals on the other side of the young girls and began firing. The young girls were caught in the cross fire, and began to run into their home. However, the 9 year old was struck by a gang bullet.  She fell, but then arose again and ran to her father, collapsing in his arms. Her father felt blood flowing from his daughter’s torso.  While holding his daughter, he ran outside screaming for help.  Shortly thereafter police and paramedics arrived on scene, but they could not save the child.  She died from a through and through gunshot wound to her chest. These two gang members were charged with, and convicted of, murder with gang enhancements. They were sentenced to 55 years to life and 70 years to life, respectively.


Two juvenile gang members drove to a crowded apartment complex and see a 19 year old male who was sitting on a staircase listening to music on his iPod.  One of the juvenile gang members, a 15 year old, exited the vehicle and fired two shots over the roof of the vehicle striking the male and killing him.  This 19 year old male was not a gang member, nor was he even known by these juvenile gang members; he was merely an innocent young man sitting on a staircase listening to music.  The juveniles were initially prosecuted as adults. However, during the pendency of the prosecution, the law changed and precluded the 15 year old killer from adult prosecution, where he would face life in prison.  He was therefore tried in Juvenile Court where a “petition” was “sustained” for First degree Murder with Special Circumstances.  Because he was 15 years old at the time of this murder, he must be released at age 25.


Two gang members drove to their gang’s alleyway hangout where they saw a mentally disabled youth walking with his female family members toward their apartment.  One of the gang members confronts the mentally disabled youth, asking him which gang he claims.  The disabled youth’s answer was unsatisfactory to the gang member, who then pulls out a knife and repeatedly stabs the youth in the abdomen.  As the youth’s female family members attempted to stop the stabbing, they were assaulted and cut by the gang member. All including the disabled youth survive the assault. The confronting gang member was charged with and convicted of multiple counts of Assault with a Deadly Weapon and sentenced to 15 years in State Prison.


Two gang members were tagging up a residential neighborhood after leaving a gang party.  Nearby was a 50 year old homeowner within the neighborhood; he was outside conversing with his friend. The homeowner and his friend then observed and verbally confronted the gang members for tagging the neighborhood.  In response thereto, the gang members summon additional gang members from the party.  The homeowner is then shot and killed.  The homeowner’s friend was shot in the head, but he survived.  The shooting gang member was convicted of First Degree Murder with Special Circumstances and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Gang Crimes Resources

  • District Attorney’s TARGET / Gang Unit:
    (714) 347-8646
  • CSP Gang Victim Services:
    (714) 935-7492
    Responds 24 hours a day to provide crisis intervention and assistance to victims and families of gang violence.


Please download and fill out the Petition For Removal form, make a copy of it for your records and submit
the original BY MAIL to:

Orange County District Attorney’s Office
Gang Injunction Unit
300 North Flower St
Santa Ana, CA 92703


Call the police in the jurisdiction in which the crime has occurred. This usually can be done anonymously. Never attempt to apprehend gang members.

Currently, there are TARGET units operating in the cities of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Orange, Santa Ana, Tustin, and Westminster. Additionally, there are teams that focus their efforts on multiple cities. The multi-city teams include the North County team which includes the cities of Buena Park, Fullerton, and La Habra and the South County team which covers the multiple south Orange County communities served by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Yes. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office have personnel willing to share their expertise with the community through presentations.

To request a speaker regarding the prosecution of gang crimes, please contact the Orange County District Attorney’s Office at the number below:

(714) 834-3600