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Sheriff’s Department Highlights National Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Victorville

VICTORVILLE, Calif. (VVNG.com) – Today marks the observation of Wear Blue Day as part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, aiming to bring attention to the paramount issue of human trafficking.

In Victorville, California, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the San Bernardino County Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation have organized an array of virtual and in-person events designed to impart knowledge and empower the public in the fight against modern slavery.

This concerted effort is marked by a series of engaging initiatives. A notable event is a public symposium held at the High Desert Church in Victorville, commencing at 9 a.m. and concluding at 4:30 p.m.

The symposium features a screening of the enlightening documentary “Boys,” followed by a presentation from distinguished keynote speaker Russell Glenn Wilson, accompanied by several insightful workshops.

For those unable to participate on January 11, the event is scheduled to be repeated on January 18 at Central Park in Rancho Cucamonga.

Furthermore, a trafficking awareness walk is slated for January 20 at 12271 Foothill Blvd., Rancho Cucamonga.

To register for these events or to obtain further information, interested individuals are encouraged to get in touch by calling 909-383-9677 or emailing angel.magallanes@hss.sbcounty.gov.

As of 2022, California is ranked as the state with the highest number of human trafficking incidents in the United States. The Inland Empire, located in close proximity to popular tourist destinations such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and the High Desert areas, is known for being a significant hotspot for human trafficking activity.

According to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office, child trafficking is typically carried out by individuals known to the child, often those they trust. Traffickers frequently use online messaging apps and social media as a means to entice and groom victims.

The Department of Homeland Security has taken a pioneering step by designating January 11th as Wear Blue Day, an initiative aimed at raising public awareness about the often concealed crime of human trafficking.

This inhumane practice involves the exploitation of individuals for labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Shockingly, millions of adults and children become victims of human trafficking annually, both globally and within the local community of Victor Valley.

Notably, the fight against human trafficking has taken on increased significance, amplified by the local impact.

In 2023, VVNG reported the shutdown of several massage parlors in Hesperia due to a sex trafficking and prostitution operation, highlighting the significance and proximity of this issue.

The 2023 parlor shutdowns involved a collaborative effort between Hesperia Code Enforcement, the San Bernardino County Fire Department, and the Hesperia Police Department. During this operation, evidence indicative of sex trafficking and/or prostitution-related activities was uncovered.

Additionally, in 2023, the San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force participated in Operation Reclaim and Rebuild in the High Desert, with investigators serving six search warrants connected to human trafficking during a one-week period. Twenty-one arrests were made, and 14 victims were rescued and provided with resources.

It is important to comprehend the two primary forms of human trafficking: forced labor and sex trafficking.

Victims of forced labor find themselves ensnared in various industries, including manufacturing, domestic work, agriculture, hospitality, and food services.

The exploitative practice of “debt bondage” frequently ensnares individuals into toiling under deplorable conditions, compounded by the threat of violence, isolation, and coercion.

On the other hand, sex trafficking coerces individuals into participating in commercial sex acts through multifaceted forms of manipulation.

Notably, any individual under the age of 18 engaged in commercial sex acts is considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of the presence of force, fraud, or coercion.

Challenging prevalent stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding human trafficking is pivotal to effective prevention and intervention. With an estimated 27.6 million individuals subjected to human trafficking globally, including within the United States, it is imperative to dismantle these misconceptions.

Furthermore, particular groups such as children in the foster system, runaway and homeless youth, individuals without lawful immigration status, and migrant laborers are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking.

Distinguishing between human trafficking and human smuggling is equally crucial, with the former involving exploitation through force, fraud, or coercion, while the latter focuses on illegal transportation across international borders.

Recognizing the warning signs exhibited by victims of human trafficking is a vital tool in combating this insidious crime. Such signs may include consistent accompaniment by someone speaking on their behalf, indications of physical abuse, malnourishment, and a lack of personal possessions.

In the United States, mindful consumer choices can significantly contribute to combating human trafficking.

By avoiding products manufactured or harvested using forced labor, individuals can play a role in thwarting this exploitation.

The Bureau of International Labor Affairs provides a comprehensive list of goods produced by child labor or forced labor, making it an excellent starting point.

If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, avoid approaching them without proper training. Instead, immediately contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or federal law enforcement at 1-866-347-2423. Provide as many details as possible, including license plate numbers, to assist in reporting the situation effectively.


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