$44 Million to Fight Sexual Sale of Children

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – The fight against sexual trafficking of children in Los Angeles County will be boosted by a $1.5 million federal grant to help the sheriff’s and U.S. attorney’s offices set up a task force.
     The Department of Justice grant comes from $44 million in nationwide funding. The federal prosecutor’s and sheriff’s offices will lead the joint Los Angeles Human Trafficking Task Force, and provide support for victims of trafficking, along with federal, state and local leaders, and expand their human trafficking programs.
     “The devastating crime of human trafficking often is hidden behind the locked doors of a sweatshop or the supposedly ‘victimless’ crime of prostitution,” U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker said. “Law enforcement in Los Angeles is now redoubling efforts to combat this horrific offense with additional resources, improved training and a growing awareness that perpetrators are often victimizing children.”
     Two San Diego County nonprofits, North County Lifeline and San Diego Youth Services, will receive $1.2 million in federal grants.
     Half of the 600,000 to 800,000 people sold across international borders into the sex trade every year are children, according to United Nations estimates. Domestically sold victims are believed bring the annual total to 2 million to 4 million. Many advocacy groups believe the term “child prostitution” should not be used at all, but “child rape.” As many as 300,000 children in the United States are forced into the sex business every year, according to UN estimates.
     Decker will work with Sheriff Jim McDonnell, who has called the fight against human trafficking and the exploitation of adults and children who are forced into labor or the sex industry a top priority.
     McDonnell said human traffickers have become “more sophisticated” and that more action is needed “to rescue and address the needs of the victim, investigate, effectively punish and proactively prevent criminal misconduct, and address the demand side by recognizing that buyers of sex with minors should be viewed as child molesters and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
     U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant as part of a $44 million effort to combat trafficking. Sixteen other recipients also received grants.
     Los Angeles County’s $1.5 million grant will provide funding from Oct. 1 this year through Sept. 30, 2018.
     The Sheriff’s Department said the task force will take a victim-centered approach and collaborate with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking.
     McDonnell said the organization will play a “vital part of addressing the needs of young trafficking victims.”
     Coalition executive Kay Buck called the task force a “new day for Los Angeles that will bring the necessary leadership and resources to our important collaboration – a partnership that will serve survivors and our community.”
     “As a direct victim service provider, we know firsthand the incredible value of a strong partnership between the community and law enforcement to deliver justice and support to survivors of labor and sex trafficking throughout L.A. County,” Buck said.
     The task force will base its operations at a Sheriff’s Department office at Monterey Park. Task force members will include the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, state parole authorities, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Los Angeles County Probation Department, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and other local police departments.

%d bloggers like this: