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Human Trafficking Bills Advance In California Legislature

Two separate human trafficking bills advanced in the legislature Monday.

Lawmakers in California are taking steps to fight the state’s growing problem with human trafficking. Two separate bills authored by Democratic Senator Marty Block advanced in the legislature Monday.

One would streamline the prosecution of human traffickers. It’s headed to the Governor’s desk. The other would add human trafficking to the list of crimes that can be used to define a gang. It faces a final vote in the Senate.

Block says gangs are increasingly involved in trafficking.

“We’re finding that gangs now take human trafficking to be, really, their enterprise of choice when it comes to making money to enrich their coffers, to buy weapons, to do the things that gangs do to prey on society,” he said.

Block says, in San Diego alone, the number of human trafficking cases filed in federal court has increased by more than 600 percent in the last five years.

"Gangs and other perpetrators are using victims as their ATM machines," Block said. "In San Diego, the human sex trafficking trade brings in $97 million in revenue, more money than drug trafficking, according to a new Urban Institute study. We need to fight this on all fronts."

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis says immigrants tend to be used for slave labor, while gangs will force young girls from California into prostitution. 

“We’re seeing girls from our schools that are being pimped and pandered and trafficked by our gangs that are joining together, that ordinarily oppose one another, to make a lot of money,” she says.

California is one the country’s top four destinations for human trafficking, which is a $32 billion global industry.

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