New Study Reveals Complex and Widespread Sex-Trafficking Ocurring Throughout San Diego County

Read the Executive Summary here

SAN DIEGO, CA – The surprising findings of a three-year study on gang-involved sex trafficking, funded by the Department of Justice, will be released 11 a.m., Monday, October 26 at a press conference at the University of San Diego in the Institute for Peace & Justice Theatre. The groundbreaking study, “Measuring the Nature and Extent of Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking in San Diego,” lead by University of San Diego Kroc School of Peace Studies Professor Ami C. Carpenter, PhD, in collaboration with Point Loma Nazarene University Professor Jamie Gates, PhD, gathered and analyzed data from hundreds of current and former gang members, schools, law enforcement agencies, and victim service providers. Sheriff Bill Gore, County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Generate Hope Founder Susan Munsey, Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephen, and Ann Thomas, representing U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, will also participate in the press conference.

“This study is the first long-term, comprehensive collection of data on the Commercially Sexually Exploited People (CSEP) industry ever conducted in San Diego County,” said Carpenter. “Our research combines the intelligence we gathered through hundreds of interviews with gang members, law enforcement representatives, school administrators and other community members with critical information we collected by reviewing incident, arrest and contact data provided by law enforcement agencies. The result is a report that accurately measures the various facets of San Diego’s growing human trafficking problem.”

Dr. Carpenter and Dr. Gates designed the study in collaboration with survivor service providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, County schools, and other researchers. “The inter-agency collaborative nature of Dr. Carpenter and Dr. Gates’ work will be invaluable to San Diego’s law enforcement community,” said San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore.

According to the study, in San Diego County, the underground sex economy represents an estimated $810 million in annual revenue and involves more than 100 area gangs. The study estimates the minimum number of CSEP at 1,766 per year with an average age of entry between 14 to 15 years old.

Other key findings include:

  • Number of “prostitution” arrests which are actually cases of sex-trafficking;
  • Proportion of CSEP victims who are U.S. citizens versus those trafficked from other countries;
  • Cities & neighborhoods most at risk for commercial sexual exploitation
  • The number of gangs in San Diego involved in sex-trafficking, and their characteristics;
  • Demographics of traffickers and trafficked individuals (age, ethnicity, etc.);
  • Key “hotspots” where sex-trafficking occurs;
  • Recruitment tactics; and
  • Recruitment activity within local public schools.

Looking forward, the study highlights future trends, which include the need for cross-sector approaches to community problems and sustainable capital for nonprofits. In addition, the study provides victim service providers with the data needed to justify substantial improvements in the size and scope of support services.

This project was supported by Award No. 2012-R2-CX-0028, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this study are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice. In addition, members of the San Diego County Human Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Advisory Council supported the study.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning committed to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and the creation of ethical leaders. Chartered in 1949, the school enrolls approximately 8,300 undergraduate and graduate full-time equivalent students. The University of San Diego has a long history of public service and is recognized as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka, the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. The university’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, The School of Business Administration, The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, The School of Law, The School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Sciences, The Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. For more information, visit: www.sandiego.edu.

About Point Loma Nazarene University

Point Loma Nazarene University is a selective Christian liberal arts institution located in San Diego, California. Founded in 1902, PLNU is known not only for its 90-acre campus overlooking the Pacific Ocean but also for its well-rounded, forward-thinking graduates. In addition to more than 60 undergraduate areas of study, PLNU offers graduate programs and adult degree options at regional centers throughout Southern California. PLNU serves more than 3,500 students. For more information, visit: www.pointloma.edu