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As January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, California’s Homeland Security Advisor and Director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Mark Ghilarducci, released the following statement Tuesday:
It is estimated that more than 20 million people around the world are victims of human trafficking. Approximately 800,000 victims annually are trafficked across international borders worldwide. Between 14,500 and 17,500 of those victims are trafficked into the United States, according to the U.S. Department of State.
Subjection to the injustices of human trafficking, such as forced labor, debt bondage, involuntary servitude and sexual exploitation shatters families, lives and our communities, here and abroad. It is a heinous crime that involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to recruit, harbor, transport, provide or obtain a person for the purposes of sexual or labor exploitation. Victims of human trafficking are, more often than not, women and young children, but also include teenagers and men.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris notes human trafficking is the world’s fastest growing criminal enterprise and is an estimated $32 billion-a-year global industry. California, a populous border state with a significant immigrant population and the world’s ninth largest economy, is one of the nation’s top destination states for trafficking human beings.
My office has and will continue to commit itself to the fight against human trafficking and, in doing so, support our nine human trafficking task forces throughout the state (in Anaheim, Fresno, Los Angeles, Oakland, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose), who rescue countless victims and the prosecution of the many perpetrators of this crime. Cal OES has committed more than $5 million to fighting human trafficking through our task forces.
Efforts of the task forces include coordination of information and resource sharing among state and federal law enforcement agencies and victim service providers; development of training for law enforcement personnel, victim service providers, and the public to identify and assist victims of human trafficking; development of protocols and resource manuals for responding to cases involving human trafficking; the identification and rescue of human trafficking victims; and the investigation, arrest and prosecution of human trafficking cases.
Additionally, in California, the State Threat Assessment Centers and our numerous partners are working closely with law enforcement and non-governmental organizations to end modern-day slavery. I applaud their efforts and encourage you to stand against human trafficking.
If you believe someone to be a victim, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (23733). It only takes a second to make a major, positive impact on a person’s life.