LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Local and federal authorities will announce the results of a task force’s eight-month effort to target human sex traffickers in the Long Beach area and rescue their victims rather than arrest them for prostitution.
Los Angeles County officials say at least nine girls ages 13 through 17 were rescued in just the last month under new protocols for handling such cases.
Many were previously foster children, welfare recipients or in the juvenile court system.
County officials say the protocols are being tested in the Long Beach area, bringing together the Department of Children and Family Services, probation, law enforcement and a nonprofit victim support group to ensure the girls don’t again fall through the cracks.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said cracking down on sex traffickers was a top priority.
“Human trafficking is appalling and a terrible crime that’s committed across the county and here in the city of Long Beach,” Garcia said.
CBS2’s Adrianna Weingold said “Operation Rescue” targeted suspects throughout the city.
Officials with the city said human trafficking is the second largest international crime industry behind illegal drugs.
Sex trafficking generates more than $32 billion each year.
Police Chief Jim McDonnell said Long Beach will continue to be front and center in the fight.
During “Operation Rescue,” he said more than 90 suspects were arrested.
“In one of the cases,” McDonnell said, “the suspect arranged to have sex with two children under 10 years of age. After he was arrested, detectives searched his car and found a large roll of carpeting, several rolls of duct tape, handcuffs and a magazine loaded with bullets.”
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