A recent sting operation netted over a dozen arrests in Santa Barbara County after law enforcement agencies across the state banded together for a three-day operation focused on human trafficking. From January 25th through the 28th, 12 people looking to pay for sex and one human trafficker were arrested, while over 500 were arrested statewide. In Santa Barbara, five potential victims were directed toward community resources, while statewide, 87 juveniles were rescued from human traffickers.
Human trafficking is covered under California Penal Code 236.1 PC and is described as
- Depriving someone of their personal liberty with the intent to obtain forced labor or services from them,
- Depriving someone of their personal liberty with the intent to violate California’s pimping and pandering laws, child pornography laws, laws against blackmail and extortion, or other laws concerning sexual activity or the exploitation of children, or
- Persuading or trying to persuade a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, with the intent to violate one of those same laws
As you can see from point number one, human trafficking is not limited to the sex industry, though the overwhelming majority of cases involve sex for money in some form or another. Additionally, a person must deprive someone of their personal liberty with the intent to violate certain laws. Those who do so without the intent to violate these laws will likely be charged with another crime, such as kidnapping.
Human trafficking is a harshly penalized crime in California. For those who deprive someone of their personal liberty in order to obtain services from them, the defendant faces five, eight, or 12 years in California state prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Those who engage in human trafficking to commit a crime related to commercial sex, child pornography, or extortion, you face eight, 14, or 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $500,000 and the requirement to register as a sex offender.
Finally, those who persuade a minor to engage in a commercial sex act face five to 12 years in prison, OR 15 years to life if it is determined that the defendant used force, fear, or the threat of violence to commit the crime.