Brown, who was 19, lavished attention on the girl, called her his girlfriend, and she quickly believed she was in love. Two years later, she was in jail in Las Vegas, a year-old runaway dressed provocatively in a low-cut maroon mini dress and heels, arrested after raising suspicions that she was loitering on the Strip for prostitution. How did she get there? The same way thousands of teenage girls and young women have over the years, authorities say: But a new sex-trafficking study released Monday challenged many of those notions with staggering implications.
In what was described as the first and most comprehensive study of its kind in the U. They come from all socio-economic and racial backgrounds, and 98 percent are female. Sex trafficking may trap up to 11, SD girls Yet a tally of local prosecutions are nowhere near the numbers suggested in the latest study, something prosecutors, law enforcement and child advocates hope to change as they get better at identifying this hidden population of victims.
That number dropped by almost half last year, with 25 cases. Research methodology The study released Monday estimated 8, to 11, underage and adult sex-trafficking victims in the county.
Researchers explain how they got to that number: We removed duplicates, and we did not count the same person twice. We found that 2, facilitators of sex trafficking had been arrested since , which is per year. It was not determined how many arrests turned into prosecutions. Then, we also knew from our interviews with facilitators that each pimp controls 4. This is also an underestimate, given that prostituted women reported that facilitators controlled eight women on average.
But we went with the lower number: But according to previous studies, the percentage of various illicit trade intercepted by authorities is usually within 15 to 20 percent. So if pimps represents 20 percent of the total pimp population, then that total population is 2, pimps. And then, when you multiply again by the 4. Recalculate that number for 15 percent of the pimp population, then that total victim population is 11, An accurate statistical breakdown of the cases in San Diego was not available because the office includes child pornography cases in its overall exploitation data, due to some overlap between those and gang trafficking cases.
The report released last week reiterated the low number of such cases that appear in the criminal justice system, estimating that only 15 to 20 percent of human trafficking victims in the county come into contact with law enforcement.
How girls are recruited That year-old girl who was finally noticed by Las Vegas Metropolitan police likely looks back on that moment in her life as a blessing. She was one of the lucky ones able to escape the life.
She moved away, got married and had three children. A federal racketeering prosecution was building against Brown and 23 others as alleged members of a North Park gang specializing in prostituting girls and young women, and her case was among those included — even though her trip to Vegas happened in Sometime after she met Brown at the mall at age 14, he was arrested and would write to her from custody, she told police.
Her mother found some of those notes in her backpack, messages that tried to persuade her daughter to work as a prostitute for him. I got the gold the cars and the girls you know. Those are the guys who pay hundreds of dollar for just your attention. You know what I think of that.
A matter of fact I got more respect for that person because it takes pride joy comes along whin money being made to make me happy. She gave all her proceeds to Brown, she said, and also cashed her college savings bonds for him. Before the Vegas trip, she told her mom she wanted to go to Magic Mountain with her high school friends for a few days. Her mother said no. The teen left anyway, ending up instead with Brown dropping her off on the Strip, which was buzzing due to an Evander Holyfield heavyweight championship fight.
Brown is also accused of taking underage girls to Los Angeles for prostitution in , and trying to entice a girl into his car with marijuana and money in near El Cajon Boulevard, according to the indictment. He and several other defendants are headed to trial in the case, in which authorities identified 60 victims. Researchers describe similar tactics to recruit teenage girls happening today, although now Facebook and other social platforms have replaced notes in backpacks.
Take the recent case involving a year-old girl from Hemet. She posted an ad on a website last fall looking for babysitting or housecleaning work and was contacted by a man who had prostitution in mind instead, said Rice.
She was observed by police soliciting on an Oceanside street. The pimp eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to more than nine years in prison for crimes against her and a second girl.
Schools have also turned into rich recruiting grounds, researchers found. Girls are wooed by charming guys, or promised designer clothing, purses and iPhones, authorities said. They are plied with alcohol and drugs. Isolated from their friends and families. Recent prosecutions and information gleaned from the study also uncovered the increased use of a different kind of recruiter: During one federal investigation, authorities were told of a suspected pimp who tried to enroll an experienced prostitute into a high school, likely for recruitment purposes, U.
Attorney Laura Duffy said during a news briefing last year. There are several examples in recent court cases of female recruiters. She is accused of recruiting an underage girl in Vista in and taking her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas the next day for sex work, according to the federal indictment. Prosecutors say they evaluate those cases carefully to see whether criminal charges are appropriate — even as they recognize that these women were probably recruited at a young age and victimized, too — but often give them a chance at probation and recovery rather than prison, as the pimps would get.
Rice said victim advocates have called him out on prosecuting such women before. The minor turned out to be an undercover officer, and the woman was arrested and charged. As part of her sentence, she was ordered to be registered as a sex offender. Co-dependence The single greatest challenge to bringing a human-trafficking case to prosecution is not only finding the victim, but getting the victim to participate in the case. The trauma is so resistant and long lasting, we end up having to make sure services are provided for years and years and years to our victims.
Still, he said, juries typically want to hear from the victim herself. Getting the victims out of their environments and into a safe space is also critical for getting a victim on the path to testifying and turning her life around. A lack of bedspace in the county has proved challenging. Of the mere 25 beds in the county, GenerateHope has eight. That is just the hardest part of my job.
The funding is not there. Investigations have also become trickier as traffickers adapt. Another surprising factor that may play a role is race. While the majority of gang-related sex trafficking cases being prosecuted in the county are of black gangs, the study found that Hispanic and white gangs are equally involved.
She said Hispanic and white gangs admitted to the same behavior, only they conducted it more under the cloak of darkness, for different reasons. They say we are their protectors, bodyguards. She said there was also evidence of human trafficking by Native American groups in casinos, a Somali gang and a Chaldean gang, according to information learned through interviews and local prosecutions.
The commission held its first summit in San Diego Thursday, one of six information-sharing sessions with key stakeholders to be held throughout California. The information is to be gathered in a report and analyzed for recommendations and an action plan.