28-year-old Illinois man (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) has recently been sent to federal court for his participation in a sex trafficking scheme that left an underage (15-year-old) girl in the hands of a prostitution ring. He allegedly convinced the girl to move from Fresno to Rancho Cordova, where she was put into place as a prostitute for older men in surrounding areas. When members of the FBI Innocence Lost Task Force, in conjunction with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office searched his home, they found other under age girls who were seemingly being used for the same purposes. He has pled guilty to all charges.
Unfortunately, Sacramento is well known for being a hub as far as human sex trafficking is concerned and the involvement of law enforcement agencies seems to have done little to stem the rising tide. The victims of these enterprises are often very young girls who have little family or prospects, making them easy targets for older men who want to persuade them to get into the business of prostitution.
Though law enforcement officials have always had a tough fight when it comes to this kind of crime, California law is absolute and strict about cases especially when minors are involved. According to a 2013 report by District Attorney George Gascó’s office, laws against human trafficking have been in existence for many years. Besides time in prison, a person convicted of a sex trafficking offense that involves a person under the age of 18 could also face an additional $25,000 fine that goes to fund programs for victims of sexual exploitation. They may also face the seizure and forfeiture of their personal assets and charges under CA Penal Code 236 – 237 (“False imprisonment”), for which the penalty is up to 12 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $500,000.