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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

New Federal Grant Connects Anti-Trafficking Efforts In Los Angeles

A new task force will help fight human trafficking in L.A. County.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell, other law enforcement, prosecutors and anti-trafficking groups celebrated today the formation of the new Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force. In the back room on the first floor of the Sheriff’s headquarters in Monterey Park, men and women dressed in suits ate small sandwiches and drank tea. A large sign about Sarah, 15,  highlighted the reason why almost one hundred people gathered for the ceremony. 

Many people from various government and advocacy groups attended. Money from a $1.5 million federal grant will allow anti-trafficking groups to coordinate with the Sheriff’s department to develop and share information on trafficking activity.

Chris Lim represented Saving Innocence. Becca Channel answered guests’ questions as Task Force Coordinator of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking. Assistant Head Deputy Phillip Glaviano shared information on the First Step Diversion Program. US Attorney Eileen Decker said a few words at the podium during a later press ceremony, as well as County Board Supervisor Michael Antonovich. Every sentiment was similar: this is a huge problem that requires community involvement. And attendance at this shared event reflected community. 

The task force is an addition to the many programs in place to fight human trafficking, but one that could be connector in the nexus of initiatives. Support services for victims, as well as prosecution teams for perpetrators have established networks all over L.A. But up until now, only communities in Los Angeles that are able to afford LAPD patrol have had access to the L.A. Metro Area Task Force on Human Trafficking. With the new federal funding, now all communities covered under the Sheriff’s department will also have access to human trafficking enforcement. For community members, that means eyes, resources and protection. 

Los Angeles is widely accepted as one of the major entry point for human trafficking. It’s proximity to international borders, high immigrant population and large economy makes it easy for perpetrators to move and hide victims. According to statistics released by the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, almost 30 million people are enslaved worldwide. Hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked across international borders every year, and millions of people are trafficked inside their own countries. But law enforcement is quick to note that human trafficking is found everywhere. Young women who have been sexually abused in their homes are especially at risk. The CIA estimates almost 18,00 men, women and children are trafficked into the United States every year. That’s a medium-sized college of slaves brought into the U.S. every year. 


- Physical/mental abuse: cuts, bruises, fear, overly submissive behavior

- Workplace abuse: not being paid, no time off, no control over services provided

- Being controlled: no eye-contact, unable to speak for self, ID taken away, threats

Call for help or to report suspicious activity: 1-888-539-2373

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