Tuesday, January 12, 2016

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

San Bernardino County’s fight against Human Trafficking began in early 2009, after District Attorney Mike Ramos answered a local news reporter’s plea to help young victims of child exploitation.

“He said he had heard enough of my harping for a leader to come forward in the campaign against child sexual abuse, so he decided to be that leader,” said San Bernardino County Sun staff writer Wesley G. Hughes.

In Feb. 2009, DA Ramos sent the following email to Hughes:

“… Wes, Thank you for keeping this issue on the front burner. We have been fighting this issue for months and you have noted my lawyers take this very serious. I had a meeting with all my staff involved including my Chief Deputies Friday and we are meeting with the Board Chairman today. I am going to use all my DA's resources to get all county government agencies involved.”

The following month, the first public meeting of the Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) took place and the county has been going strong ever since, tackling this problem at every level.

While there are several countywide agencies committed to combatting human trafficking, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office strengthened its zero-tolerance policy on human trafficking in Jan. 2013.

Following the premiers of a 45-min. documentary aimed at generating awareness about the sexual exploitation of minors in San Bernardino County, DA Ramos announced the formation of the Human Trafficking Vertical Prosecution Unit and the implementation of the “Stop the John” Project, in which the office posts online the names and photographs of those defendants convicted of solicitation in San Bernardino County.

In 2014, District Attorney Mike Ramos and Sheriff John McMahon also created the county’s first Human Trafficking Joint Investigative Task Force. The Sheriff provided the infrastructure and a Detective for the Task Force, and the District Attorney’s Office provided a Senior Investigator from our Bureau of Investigation. To date, the task force has made over 300 arrests and assisted 75 victims.

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