For many Americans, summer is a time of sports, vacations, picnics, concerts, beaches, and family enjoyment. For other Americans, however, many children among them – a bright summer day is just another day of pain. There are no trips to Disneyland, birthday parties with friends, or games to play with cousins. There’s often no school to return to in the fall. These young people have no loving, stable family to provide such scenarios of enjoyment, much less to keep them safe.
Instead, these kids might have had pimps and customers, all day, like every other day. One victim of sex trafficking in nearby Mexico reports that she was seduced at 12, by a man posing as a boyfriend. He groomed her with gifts. Eventually she would be forced into human trafficking – sex slavery. She serviced about 80 customers each day, every day. She was expected to pull in other women into the sex trafficking ring, as well. Overall, this exploited child, a victim of sex slavery, estimates she was raped over 43,000 times. She is now 20 years old.
It turns out that the people most vulnerable to exploitation for slavery and sex-trafficking are teenagers without strong parental guidance and support. A recent crash course in Traumatic Informed Parenting classes, or TIPS, revealed that there are half-million children currently in the DHFS system (Department of Health and Family Services, aka Care) who aren’t going to be ‘home’ for Christmas this year. These kids who will most likely grow up in the system and become vulnerable to victimization.
San Diego law enforcement has long known that sex trafficking was a significant problem in San Diego. In 2001, the FBI identified San Diego to be among the most active child sex trafficking areas in the United States.
Human trafficking has become a $32 billion-a-year global industry and is one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises. California is one of the top four destination states and San Diego ranks ninth among “high intensity child prostitution areas.”
Sex trafficking is San Diego’s second largest underground economy, worth $810 million dollars annually. In 2012, the gang revenue from sex trafficking was more than the revenue brought in by the sale of the San Diego Padres. Sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, human slavery, and prostitution in San Diego are, for the most part, ‘industries’ controlled by about local gangs, roughly split between . More and more, gangs are preferring human trafficking to drug trafficking. Gang members may tattoo their victims to show their ownership over them.
“This activity is evenly split between African American, Hispanic and white gang members, in the last ten years Somali gangs and Iraqi Chaldeans have also been indicted,” said Dr. Ami Capenter of USD.
If you think you see human trafficking, sex trafficking, or child trafficking taking place, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center now: 1 (888) 373-7888. If you think you see or aware of child abuse, call the San Diego Child Abuse Hotline now: 1(800) 344-6000