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Human Trafficking Awareness Day 11 January 2013
Human Trafficking Awareness Day spotlight issue
Human Trafficking Awareness Day puts spotlight on ‘modern-day slavery’ in North County and beyond
7:07 p.m.Jan. 6, 2013
— Nearly 150 people on Sunday heard speakers in Vista shed light on the
shadowy world of human trafficking — often referred to as modern-day
The sixth annual
Human Trafficking Awareness Day Event and Walk, hosted by Soroptimist
International of Vista, was held from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Avo Playhouse
on Main Street. The event featured speakers from the sheriff’s North
County Human Trafficking Task Force, North County Lifeline and
GenerateHope. A short walk to and from the nearby Wave Waterpark
followed the presentations. Attendees were asked to donate $10, which
would benefit the Human Trafficking Task Force of Soroptimist
International of Vista.
human trafficking is thought of as a problem abroad, said event
organizer Kaye Van Nevel. While the criminal enterprise is indeed
international, rivaling the illegal arms trade in scope, San Diego and
North County, specifically, have a high incident rate of human
trafficking, she said. San Diego’s proximity to the border, its tourist
appeal and its number of military bases are all believed to be
trafficking is the recruitment, kidnapping, abduction, transport,
harboring, buying or selling of a person using force, fraud, threats or
coercion often for the purpose of labor or sexual slavery. Women and
children are most often the victims.
the North County Human Trafficking Task Force was formed in August
2010, 123 investigations have been conducted, and 264 individuals have
been arrested and prosecuted, said Deputy Joe Mata, one of the event’s
On Dec. 3, for
example, authorities charged Oceanside couple Inez Martinez Garcia and
her husband, Marcial Garcia Hernandez, with 26 counts of aggravated
sexual assault of a child in a sex-trafficking case.
say they smuggled a 12-year-old Mexican girl across the border and used
her as a slave for sex and labor more than 10 years ago.
Many investigations and prosecutions are ongoing, Mata said.
investigations are the most difficult to conduct because the victim has
to testify in court and that can be tough,” he said.
while the statistics can be bleak — criminals conduct $32 billion in
business annually, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource
Center — progress is being made, Van Nevel said. Perpetrators are
receiving longer sentences; profits, if they can be found, are more
often being directed to survivors of human trafficking; and more
services are available and working together in North County to help
rehabilitate trafficked women and children.
hope is, in addition to continuing to break the silence, is to leave
people with a sense of hope,” Van Nevel said of the event. “We are
succeeding. We are finding survivors and helping them.”
Dottie Pechek, a Soroptimist member, said human trafficking is a devastating reality.
“Events like these … it’s a start,” the Vista resident said. “Something needs to be done.”
is an international volunteer organization dedicated to improving the
lives of women and girls around the world. Human trafficking became a
group focus almost a decade ago.
Vanessa Kramer, 30, of Vista, heard about the event at her church and decided she wanted more information.
just couldn’t believe it was happening around Vista,” she said of human
trafficking. “I couldn’t believe it was so close to home. … It’s
Advocates are also
calling on local congregations to participate in “A Weekend of Prayer”
Friday through next Sunday. Congregations are encouraged to participate
in events that raise awareness of human trafficking and conclude
services with a prayer calling for an end to modern-day slavery.
Staff photographer Bill Wechter contributed to this report. email@example.com