comments

Human trafficking a growing scourge in Placer County

By: Carol Feineman / Staff Writer
-A +A
What is trafficking?
Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age (22 USC § 7102).
Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Human trafficking affects individuals across the world, including here in the United States, and is commonly regarded as one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. 
  ~Courtesy of humantraffickinghotline.org
 
Stats and information
There are an estimated 20.9 million victims held in modern slavery globally (ILO: The International Labour Organization).
All 50 states in the U.S. and 167 countries have reported incidents of human trafficking (National Trafficking Resource Center 2015).
There are nearly 2 million children worldwide exploited in the global sex trade; each year, as many as 100,000 to 300,000 American children are at risk of being trafficked for commercial sex in the United States
(UNICEF; Source: U.S. Department of Justice, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children).
Human trafficking is an estimated $150 billion global industry annually (ILO: International Labour Organization). In the U.S. alone, it is an estimated $9.8 billion industry (UNODC: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime).
Human trafficking ranks among the fastest-growing illegal crime industries in the world.
The average age of a trafficking victim in the United States is 11 to 14 years old (F.B.I: Federal Bureau of Investigation).
­~ Courtesy of 3 Strands Global Foundation

 

Editor’s note: This series looks at human trafficking in Placer County. Next week, we look at who is at risk of becoming victims and signs that point to sex trafficking. 
 
History books tell us that slavery was abolished throughout the United States in 1865.
But today, 153 years later, slavery in the form of sex (and labor) trafficking is alive and flourishing throughout the United States. 
The average age of sex trafficking victims is between 11 and 14 years old. California “has particularly high human trafficking rates compared to the rest of the nation,” according to state Assemblyman Rob Bonta of Oakland. 
That means that every city and town of Placer County, including Lincoln, Loomis, Rocklin, Auburn and Roseville, is susceptible.
“We should start when we talk about human trafficking, that means sex trafficking, labor trafficking, I think we have to start by first mentioning that this is modern day slavery and it is happening in our own backyard,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “No one should think this is a problem that emanates in another country or that this is happening to someone else’s family. It is happening here and to our families.”
During a press conference Feb. 14, Becerra mentioned a sex trafficking ring in Tulare County busted last year. The traffickers transported a large number of girls “substantially under the age of 18” to the major centers (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento) and commercially sold them, according to Becerra.
“This is not a problem in someone else’s backyard; this is occurring here, wherever here might be, whether Sacramento or in one of the smallest towns you might find in the state of California,” Becerra said. “… Please be vigilant for your kids in your community. We were able to get a 28-year sentence on the (Tulare) ringleader of the sex trafficking ring but they pop up as quickly as we can find them.”
In 2017, 141 sex-trafficking victims in Placer County asked for help from the nonprofit Stand Up Placer organization, designated a human-trafficking victim service agency in April 2016 by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. 
That number doesn’t reflect the actual higher number of victims in Placer County, according to Stand Up Placer Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director Jenny Davidson.
“Especially with this crime, they might not know they are victims. The number is so much higher,” Davidson said. “Every time we do a sting with the FBI, the Roseville Police Department Crime Suppression Unit and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit, we have multiple victims, 10 to 20 victims a sting. If we’re only doing the stings every six weeks, we know it’s still happening in between to others.” 
Attorney General Becerra’s press conference Feb. 14 announced the implementation of Bonta’s Assembly Bill 1227.  The Human Trafficking Prevention Education and Training Act (AB 1227), signed into law last year, provides for a statewide prevention-education program that helps teachers spot trafficking and empowers students to avoid victimization. 
Sex and human trafficking often targets middle school and high school-aged children.
3Strands Global Foundation, based out of El Dorado County, mobilizes communities to combat human trafficking through prevention education and reintegration programs. The nonprofit organization offers PROTECT, a prevention-education training and curriculum, to teachers of fifth-, seventh-, ninth- and 11th-grades throughout California. This program is anticipated to roll out by fall in Lincoln and Loomis. 
 “Our kids are being exploited online and manipulated and coerced in person at parties or any place where youth congregates by traffickers,” said Ashlie Bryant, 3Strands Global Foundation’s co-founder/Chief Executive Officer/president.  
 “This is a crime that’s hidden in plain sight. Seventy-eight percent of victims interviewed in a San Diego study in 2016 did not know they were being trafficked,” Bryant said.
And human trafficking is in Placer County, according to Bryant.
“Historically, we saw sex trafficking on the street but now we are also seeing an increase of sex trafficking online,” Bryant said.  
Trafficking victims will often continue to go about their daily routines while they are being trafficked, according to Assemblyman Bonta’s office.
The human-trafficking economy is a $150-billion global economy for traffickers, according to Assemblyman Bonta. 
Of that amount, $9.8 billion was earned by traffickers in this country. 
There is hope in fighting back against this crime. Today, local organizations such as 3 Strands Global Foundation, Stand Up Placer and law enforcement agencies are working together on the trafficking problem.
“Human trafficking happens in communities, large and small, around the country. The first step in combating the crime is awareness. If a community understands the nature of human trafficking, it can take concrete steps to combat it,” Bryant said. “Teachers are the front line of human trafficking prevention. They see children almost as much as parents, so ensuring they have the tools necessary to understand and spot trafficking is one of the most important things we can do to protect our kids. When educators and law enforcement work together, as they do in Placer County, we can create trauma-informed, trafficking-free communities.”