International Network of Hearts, a nonprofit organization that helps children recover from human trafficking, and the San Diego County District Attorney’s office jointly hosted a Binational Human Trafficking Conference at Chula Vista City Hall on March 16.
Interim District Attorney Summer Stephan said the purpose of the conference is to bring together governmental and non-governmental organizations from both sides of the border to strengthen collaborations in the fight against human trafficking in the region.
She said the district attorney’s sex crime and human trafficking division is doing all it can to combat human trafficking.
She said the district attorney’s office uses a “Four Ps Formula,” to combat human trafficking. The formula is the same one used by the U.S. Department of Justice and California Department of Justice.
The formula focuses on prevention by stopping trafficking before it begins by educating children, teachers and communities. The second part of the formula is the protection of trafficking victims; the third P is prosecution, effectively prosecute human trafficking offenders; lastly the formula ends with partnerships, the district attorney’s office creates partnerships to help victims recover.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Human Trafficking is the fastest growing form of organized crime in the world and is tied in second place with the illegal arms trade.
Alma Tucker, president of the International Network of Hearts, said her organization has seen a rise of human trafficking victims throughout the years.
“The crime of human trafficking is growing and growing and it’s very profitable,” Tucker said.
Adam Braverman, a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California, said that human trafficking is one of the world’s most lucrative and fastest growing illicit enterprises in the world.
“The trafficking of men, women and children for labor or sex is so appalling and so pervasive in our country and around the world,” he said. “It is one of the department of justice’s top priorities and one of the top priorities for our office.”
He said his office has seen an increase in human trafficking cases filed, defendants arrested and defendants convicted for human trafficking crimes.
He said just last year, the Department of Justice convicted more than 500 individuals for human trafficking.
Braverman said in 2014 it was estimated that proceeds from human trafficking where as high as $150 billion world-wide.
Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy said human trafficking affects children, teenagers and women the most.
She said the San Diego-Tijuana border is the busiest land crossing in the world and makes San Diego County an international gateway for human trafficking. Kennedy added that Chula Vista is seven miles from the San Diego – Tijuana border.
“In Chula Vista, we are doing our part to combat trafficking by aggressively investigating this appalling crime using two different units at our department – our family protection union and our special investigations unit,” she said.
Kennedy said both units regularly work sting operations at the city with the San Diego Human Trafficking Taskforce.