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Study: San Diego Street Gangs Deeply Involved In Commercial Sex Trade

Meredith Dank, Ph.D. Senior Research Associate in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute

Ami Carpenter, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego she's currently researching the Extent of Gang-Involved Sex Trafficking in the San Diego Border Region.

Gangs running online prostitution, young girls being tricked or trafficked into sex work, and some victims being lured across the border into migrant brothels.

Those are some of the areas of the underground commercial sex trade in San Diego that were studied in a new Urban Institute report.

Meredith Dank is with the Urban Institute. She said in San Diego they found the level of gang activity in the commercial sex market higher than in the other cities studied.

Dank said they found that rival gangs were working with one another to maximize profits. She said San Diego gang involvement in the commercial sex trade is almost at the level of organized crime.

The study documents what local law enforcement officials already know, that many of the sex workers in our region are vulnerable young women, forced or manipulated into a trade that is highly profitable - but only for the people who run the organization.

Ami Carpenter, is an assistant professor at the University of San Diego who's researching the extent of gang-involved sex trafficking in the San Diego border region. She said she has demographic data on 700 victims of 700 victims of sex trafficking over the last 10 years.

"Homeless and runaway minors are particularly susceptible to victimization by sex-traffickers," Carpenter said in an email.

In the first of two segments focusing on the illegal sex trade in San Diego, we'll discuss the results of the New Urban Institute study.

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