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Sex Trafficking and Gangs in the San Diego/Tijuana Border Region Area

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2012, $398,824)

This project focuses specifically on one of the most under-studied aspects of human trafficking, the relationship between gangs and human trafficking. This project measures the nature and extent of gang involvement in human trafficking by gathering data from four sources: victims who get assistance in social service agencies in San Diego County, non-public law enforcement incidence and arrest records, persons identified as trafficking victims and perpetrators at San Diego middle and high schools, and traffickers themselves. Analysis of these data sets for congruencies and inconsistencies by comparison to a standardized screening tool will lead to recommendations for improvements in screening for human trafficking victims in both social service agencies and law enforcement. The researchers have gained access to key data from 115 schools in San Diego County. This project also builds on a years worth of fieldwork and relationships with gang members to collect ethnographic evidence of the scope of human trafficking from the facilitators of human trafficking themselves. The project plans to include a snowball sample of a minimum of 30 facilitators of human trafficking to determine the relationship between gangs and trafficking. Data from these interviews will be used to inform the current profile of the scope of human trafficking in San Diego County as well as to determine avenues for future research.

This project seeks to lay the foundation for a system of integrated data collection mechanisms across San Diego County and serve as a model for what other regions could put in place. The San Diego County Human Trafficking and CSEC Advisory Council will have the opportunity to use the projects data to create an informed response for which a future project can then assess the effectiveness of that response.

The objective of this project is to: build and pilot a methodology for a social-media based human terrain study of gangs operating in San Diego, Tijuana, Honduras and El Salvador designed to generate insights on to gang activities including, but not limited to, sex trafficking.The project has two goals. First, the project will produce a social media-based human terrain study examining gangs operating in San Diego, Tijuana, Honduras and El Salvador. The study will include enumerating communities, key communicators, key messages, and mapping boundary conditions including themes, memes, and criteria for a broader pattern of life analysis of gang and gang communities. Second, the project will identify key indicators that can be tracked over time and that can provide relevant insights on gang activity, membership, motivations, recruitment patterns, etc., and specifically those that can be identified or linked to sex trafficking.The project will build upon SecDev's previous work in large-scale social media collection, analysis, and modeling focused on high-risk actors. The overall project research design will employ a spiral approach in which each activity/phase will follow a sequence of plan, act and observe, and reflect. Collection and analysis of social media data will be accomplished through the use of two complementary methods: very large-scale conversation mapping and geotemporal monitoring. The project will inform policy through new insights on gangs, gang culture, and gang activity observable through large-scale social media analysis.
Additionally, the project will enhance operational practice and effectiveness by developing relevant and trackable key indicators that complement existing intelligence on gang activity, and can enhance counter-gang activities including policing and early intervention with at-risk communities, with specific reference to sex trafficking. Key indicators will be built into web browser-based dashboards capturing relevant law enforcement PIR/CIRs.

Date Created: August 29, 2012