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Home / trafficking victims

Super Bowl sex trafficking targeted by law enforcement, advocacy groups

With the Super Bowl just over a week away, law enforcement and advocacy groups stressed Thursday that they will be working diligently to combat sex trafficking and exploitation of young girls, which authorities say has become an unfortunate reality surrounding most major events.

Law enforcement agencies both local and federal, including the Los Angeles Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will be out in force in an effort to combat the practice and rescue trafficking victims.

Officials with Homeland Security Investigations, a division of ICE, said they have been working for more than a year to develop plans for combating trafficking.

That effort includes “educating the public and key industries in Los Angeles — such as hospitality, hotels, and transportation — on how to recognize indicators of human trafficking in their communities and help dispel the myths about who can be a victim of this terrible crime.”

Representatives of various anti-trafficking organizations gathered with LAPD representatives Thursday to discuss the work they do to assist victims, and to highlight the dangers they face.

Harmony Grillow said she is a survivor of human trafficking, “and I remember what it was like to feel trapped and alone and to see no way out.”

“And I know for a fact that if someone hadn’t reached out to me, I would not be alive today,” she said.

Tera Hilliard of the group Forgotten Children said human trafficking overwhelmingly impacts Black girls and young women.

“Here in Los Angeles County, unfortunately, we have over 92% of the victims that are being trafficked are African-American girls,” she said. “So our goal is also to provide culturally sensitive services that speak to who they are as not only women, but Black women and Spanish women and women of color.”

Jasmine Jones of the group Saving Innocence said members of her organization respond within 90 minutes to police stations when trafficking victims are rescued.

“When we respond, we respond with a humanitarian bag,” she said. “In these bags they have a change of clothes, a toothbrush, a teddy bear, maybe even a coloring book — something to remind them of some of the healthier things that they are, because they are children.”

She said advocates also work to provide victims with ongoing emotional support and assistance returning to a normal life.

“We meet with them on a weekly basis to help re-acclimate into a healthier lifestyle,” Jones said. “That includes connecting them to schools, connecting them to community-based organizations. Maybe getting their vital documents, like a California ID or work permit.”

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