One of the harsh realities of life in Southern California is that it is a top destination in the country for human sex trafficking. Girls as young as 12 have been sexually exploited – many are forced while others are lured in by promises of a better life.
The Human Sex Trafficking Section prosecutes the criminals who exploit these victims. Created in 2014, the section is comprised of specially trained prosecutors who are dedicated to assisting victims of sex trafficking.
With heightened sensitivity to these crimes and new laws to toughen the punishment of human traffickers, the caseload has increased. There were 14 human trafficking cases filed in 2012. That doubled in 2013 and grew to 89 in 2014. Last year, there were 75 cases.
In one of the most notable cases prosecuted this year, a 38-year-old man was sentenced to 16 years and eight months in prison for trafficking an underage girl and a woman in South Los Angeles. Even while in jail, the defendant demanded one of the victims continue working as a prostitute.
Besides prosecuting these cases, Jane Creighton, the deputy-in-charge of the Human Sex Trafficking Section, also is responsible for training other prosecutors and law enforcement officers on how to properly investigate and file these cases. She led a day-long training for 120 criminal justice professionals last month in Alhambra.