Gangs embrace lucrative human trafficking business

Over the past several years, Los Angeles County has seen a significant increase in the number of sexually trafficked youth and is now recognized as one of the major hubs for sex trafficking in the state and nation. It is sickening that children, some as young as 10 years old, are forcibly coerced and manipulated into selling their bodies.

Untold numbers of these children fall victim to predatory adults, many of whom have ties to criminal street gangs. They are sexually exploited and abused in unspeakably brutal ways, all for commercial gain. Criminal street gangs have embraced human trafficking as a lucrative revenue source; as sex trafficking now rivals narcotic sales as the major source of revenue for many gangs.

As a way to combat the sex trafficking of young girls by gang members, I will ask the Board of Supervisors this week to support and co-sponsor legislation that would add pimping, pandering, and human trafficking to the list of crimes that are associated with gang activity.

Senate Bill 473, authored by Senator Marty Block and sponsored by San Diego County, would create tougher penalties for gang members convicted of human trafficking, such as adding a three year prison sentence for anyone convicted of a human trafficking crime that occurs on or within 1,000 feet of a school.

This legislation would be a major step forward in putting an end to the physical and mental abuse of these young girls.