San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks issued an apology yesterday afternoon after he and Undersheriff Carlos Bolanos were detained by Las Vegas police at a house busted for prostitution this weekend.

Munks and Bolanos were detained for a short time Saturday evening when police located the two at a residence under investigation by local and federal law enforcement officers for prostitution and human trafficking. Neither of the two officials were arrested. However, the event cast a shadow on Munks, who was elected to the position last June and sworn into office Jan. 8.

Munks read a prepared apology outside his Redwood City office yesterday afternoon.

"I want to apologize to my family, the Sheriff’s Office and its fine men and women, and to the people of San Mateo County for my lack of judgment and the undue attention and embarrassment this incident has caused,” according to the statement.

Munks and Bolanos were in Las Vegas for the 23rd annual Baker to Vegas 120-mile, 20-stage, foot relay race. The two-day race is limited to law enforcement agencies from around the world. It is unclear if Munks and Bolanos actually participated in the race.

The two rented a limousine Saturday evening and asked the driver to take them to a massage parlor because Munks was sore from the race, Bolanos explained to KLAS television station in Las Vegas.

Munks said Bolanos did not enter the residence.

"I would not, nor did I, break any laws. Neither did the undersheriff,” Munks said.

The two were given no special treatment by police, said Bill Cassell, public information officer for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

"They were treated no differently then anyone else. The target was the operators,” Cassell said. "All of the customers ... we simply identified them.”

The operation was the result of a two-year joint investigation by Las Vegas Metro and the FBI’s Organized Crime Squad. Members of the Metro Vice Section, Gang Unit and SWAT teams assisted in serving eight separate search and arrest warrants. The eight different locations were at either single-family residences or apartments within a half mile of each other on the west side of the Las Vegas Strip.

A total of seven people were arrested on various prostitution-related charges. Another 25 alleged prostitutes were taken into custody. Police also seized $20,000 in cash from all the locations and 3,500 ecstasy pills from one location. Cassell was not sure what location Munks and Bolanos were at and whether it was the house where police found drugs.

Munks and Bolanos took office as the county’s top law enforcement officers three and a half months ago. Munks, 51, was sworn in as the San Mateo County sheriff Jan. 8 after winning an uncontested election for the seat last June. Munks previously served 13 years as the undersheriff to his predecessor Don Horsley. He appointed former co-worker and longtime Redwood City police chief Carlos Bolanos as his undersheriff.

Munks was born and raised in Palo Alto and currently resides in Portola Valley with his wife Brenda. He has four children. Munks started his career at the Palo Alto Police Department where he forged a longtime — and sometimes competitive — friendship with new Undersheriff Carlos Bolanos, he told the Daily Journal on the eve of his swearing-in ceremony.

Bolanos and Munks rose through the ranks at the Palo Alto Police Department. The two share a brotherly rivalry that keep the two in constant competition — whether it is promotions or a tennis match, Munks said.

Bolanos served as the Redwood City police chief for 12 years. Bolanos became chief in 1994 to replace retiring Police Chief Tony Guardino. He delivered his letter of resignation on June 8, just three days after Munks won the June election.

Dana Yates can be reached by e-mail: dana@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.

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