You’re probably not surprised to hear the I-5 North in San Diego is the second busiest highway in the United States. You’ve sat sweltering in a traffic jam, trying to make your way to L.A. or the beach on a Friday afternoon.
Imagine a similar highway, facilitated on the internet by pimps and gang members, a route for traffickers to transport unwilling victims to their next exploitation.
Because it’s largely hidden, the massive highway of sex trafficking escapes our radar, but it’s just like another interstate plowing through the heart of our city. Consider just a few facts:
- Sex trafficking in San Diego is an $810 million industry – worth more than the San Diego Padres were sold for in 2012.
- At least 110 gangs across San Diego are engaging in sex trafficking. Increasingly, humans are a more profitable commodity than guns or drugs.
- Schools in every area of San Diego – North County, Central San Diego, South Bay, and East County – are all targets of recruiting and exploitation for the purpose of sex trafficking.
- 50% of those arrested for prostitution by law enforcement were victims of sex trafficking at one point in their lives.
- A conservative estimate of the average “age of entry” into sex trafficking is 16 years old, with a first arrest for prostitution at age 19. Facilitators of trafficking are also increasingly recruited as teenagers.
- In San Diego, traffickers depend primarily on exploiting socioeconomic vulnerability, prior abuse in the home, drug addiction, and mental health issues and less on physical coercion.
- San Diego has only 29 beds for rescued sex trafficking victims. None of these are designated for minors.
(Based on 2015 research by Point Loma University’s Center for Justice and Reconciliation.)
Hope for San Diego wants to help obliterate this highway and support those victimized by it. Please join us on March 2nd to learn not only about the horrors of this highway, but how you can bring hope to those who are trapped in the traffic jam.