Incidents of human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) are becoming more prevalent in the County of El Dorado and more and more common throughout the country. From 2010–2012, the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) was aware of three CSEC cases. From 2013 to present, HHSA is aware of 15 additional CSEC cases, most of which are children in the foster care and/or probation system.
“We need to change the conversation,” said Mark S. Contois, assistant director of Human Services of HHSA. “This exploitation of children is one of the most horrific crimes possible and we need to treat these children as victims instead of criminals by providing the children with the intensive intervention and services needed to be successful.”
The FBI has determined that three of the nation’s 13 high-intensity child prostitution areas are located in California: the San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas. Sacramento is one of several hubs in California for trafficking, due in part to its central location between Stockton, the Bay Area and Reno. U.S. Highway 50 and State Highways 49, 88 and 193 traverse the county of El Dorado, linking the regional hubs and linking the county to this growing regional crisis.
To address the issue of human trafficking and CSEC for foster and probation youth, HHSA has partnered with the Placerville Police Department, El Dorado County Probation Department, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office, El Dorado County Counsel, and El Dorado County Office of Education to form the Foster Youth and Human Trafficking (FYHT) Task Force. The primary purpose of the FYHT Task Force is to be able to quickly respond to and address all needs of the child and pursue criminal prosecution against those who are exploiting children.
“Human trafficking can only be stopped through the coordinated efforts of many organizations,” said Contois. “Our county task force brings the right people to the table to combat human trafficking locally through partnership, awareness, prevention and prosecution.”
Human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) are issues that affect communities across our nation, our state, and, tragically, our own county. The FBI has stated that up to 200,000 children a year are trafficked for sex, and that an additional 300,000 children are at risk each year for commercial sexual exploitation.
Human trafficking, which includes commercial sexual exploitation, is a $32 billion per year worldwide industry, and a study released in 2014 showed the sex trade in San Diego and seven other U.S. cities sampled to be worth nearly $1 billion a year. After drug trafficking and counterfeiting, human trafficking is the world’s most profitable criminal activity.
El Dorado County District IV Supervisor Ron Briggs has invited the FYHT Task Force to give a presentation to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, April 22 at 10 a.m. The presentation will provide information on the task force, the scope of the CSEC problem in El Dorado County, the need for CSEC education and prevention programs in our communities.
For more information on human trafficking, please visit oag.ca.gov/human-trafficking or call 1-888-373-7888.