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

Evening Edition

Aired 3/12/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

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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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | March 12, 2014 at 1:24 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Yeah, this is more of the fearmongering so common in US media and perpetrated by Armita Sharma here on KPBS When it's not terrorism, it's drugs, and when it's not drugs it's sex trafficking or some other social ill.

Honestly people, Over the past five or so years, SDPD has managed to clear out North Park and to the east of it. You can drive down stretches of El Cajon Blvd and see nothing, nor on University Ave, as well as the Main St area by the base. National City is yet another example. I'm not so famliar with Spring St. in L Mesa, but I'm sure law enforcement has had the same success over there. Prostitutes have been pushes up north or to other states, and many simply adevertise on sandiegobackges. A runaway female teen doesn't necessarily mean she will become a prostitute! What kind of logic is that??? Now, it is true that some women can be smuggled into the US as prostitutes, but that would be a small percentage among persons somuggled into the US. With the technology at the disposal of law enforecement today, it is much more difficult to get away with such illicit activities. It is also very misleading, as Ms Sharma has done in the past, to claim that all sex trafficking involves minors.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | March 12, 2014 at 1:25 p.m. ― 3 years ago

i wonder if the recent raid at Cheater's in Kearney Mesa, had something to do with this "crackdown"???

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 12, 2014 at 4:14 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Mission, your extremely ignorant opinion disregards all facts and statistics. You have no idea what you are talking about.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 12, 2014 at 4:17 p.m. ― 3 years ago

I will explain myself a little better. Sex trafficking has evolved with technology. The hookers have simply moved from the street to the internet. Just because you don't see hookers hanging around El Cajon Blvd doesn't mean they don't exist. And yes, most of the sex trafficking cases involve minors, most people become involved in it as minors.

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