San Diego law enforcement officers who investigate human trafficking are seeing a disturbing number of cases involving teen girls who are being pimped by increasingly violent street gang members, a concern that has prompted officials to take aim at the prostitution problem, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. After listening to a 45-minute presentation on modern-day pimping, the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a measure to explore creating a full-time task force that would address the issue regionally and push for stronger penalties against traffickers of teen prostitutes.
The task force may blend the resources of two existing multiagency efforts – the San Diego Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, which the Sheriff's Department runs, and the Innocence Lost task force, which the FBI leads. Since launching in 2007, the sheriff's San Diego Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force has identified 372 victims of sex trafficking. Thirty percent were minors, said sheriff's Sgt. Jason King, who heads the effort. Authorities are seeing girls who also hail from a wider range of socioeconomic backgrounds – from the upper-class suburbs to the poor urban neighborhoods – and their average ages are 14 to 18 years old. The task force has identified 164 pimps, 44 percent of whom were documented gang members. Said Deputy District Attorney Gretchen Means, “This is the new face of sexploitation in San Diego.” San Diego ranked eighth nationally for child prostitution in the U.S., said a 2003 FBI audit, the last such audit done. Los Angeles was no. 1, followed by Minneapolis and Dallas.