It is well known that California has one of the highest rates of incidence of human trafficking. Usually, this type of criminal activity involves bringing young girls into the United States from other countries and exploiting them for sexual services. However, in Oakland, a 32-year-old man was recently arrested on charges of human trafficking, but this case involved runaway teenage girls from within the United States. Officials say that, for runaways like the one in this case, ending up on the streets being used by a pimp is, unfortunately, a common occurrence.
In the instance above, the San Jose branch of the Human Trafficking Task Force was tipped off by local law enforcement agents to a young girl’s photograph displayed on the Internet on a prostitution site. Later, they discovered that the girl was allegedly working, under the tutelage of the 32-year-old man, at a Sunnyvale motel, after being picked up from her Bible study meeting.
California law defines ‘human trafficking’ as any illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of sexual ‘slavery’ through a vast variety of different pieces of legislation (the most recent of which is the 2012 California Proposition 35, which prohibits sex slavery and human trafficking (CA Penal Code 236.1). In California, human trafficking is always considered a felony offense. If convicted, an individual could spend anywhere from 5 to 12 years in state prison and be liable for a maximum of $500,000 in fines. Penalties increase as the age of the victim decreases, meaning that if a minor child is involved, the maximum sentence rises to 15 years in state prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender.