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Nature and Extent of Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking in San Diego County

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2016
170 pages
This study examined the nature and scope of gang involvement in sex trafficking in San Diego County, CA, which is ranked by the FBI as one of the Nation's 13 highest areas of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
The study's three objectives were to determine (1) the scope and nature of gang involvement in sex trafficking and commercial sexual activity; (2) the scope and nature of victimization in San Diego County; and (3) estimates of the regional commercial sex economy. The study found that 110 gangs in the county from a wide variety of neighborhoods and racial/ethnic backgrounds have members who profit from sex trafficking in San Diego. On a wider scale, the study found that the scope of the underground sex economy in the county is considerably larger than the county leadership has estimated, meaning that the resources currently directed to this issue do not match the scope of the problem. Apparently, all communities in the county are impacted by this underground economy that draws $810 million of the county's economy. For a variety of reasons, law enforcement agencies lack sufficient information to distinguish victims of sex trafficking from other related crimes. The median age for first arrest for prostitution is 19 years old, and the average age for entry into sex trafficking is 16.1 years old. Policy implications and recommendations pertain to capacity building, service delivery, and new programming. Suggestions for future research are offered. 6 tables 4 figures, 9 references, and appended interview protocol for facilitators and gang structure analysis

Date Published: January 1, 2016