Executive Summary of the Human Trafficking Study

Read the new Updated Executive Summary here

Read the Full Technical Report here

See the PowerPoint presentation here

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The groundbreaking study, “Measuring the Nature and Extent of Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking in San Diego”[1] focused narrowly on one of the most understudied aspects of human trafficking in the United States: the relationship of street gangs as facilitators of sex trafficking. Researchers gathered and analyzed data from hundreds of current and former gang affiliated individuals, schools, law enforcement agencies, and victim service providers. In all, data was collected from 1205 individuals, making it one of the largest, most comprehensive human trafficking case studies in the United States to date: 156 gang affiliated persons and/or traffickers, 702 first-time prostitution offenders, 189 survivors from eight victim services programs, and 140 County School administrators and staff. The study is a large-scale model of collaborative research to impact policy and practice, and serves as a national model for future research on human trafficking more broadly. Click HERE for the full Executive Summary.


  • Sex trafficking is San Diego’s 2nd largest underground economy after drug trafficking. The underground sex economy represents an estimated $810 million in annual revenue
  • Our methodology has produced San Diego County’s first credible estimate of sex trafficking victims/survivors per year: 3,417-8,108. It is estimated that law enforcement only arrests 15-20% of the persons committing trafficking offenses.
  • At least 110 gangs are involved in commercial exploitation of people (CSEP). 80% of pimps/sex trafficking facilitators interviewed were gang involved
  • Pimps/sex trafficking facilitators are not primarily African American. Our sample of traffickers in prison contained roughly an equal number of white, black and Hispanic facilitators
  • 16 years old is the average age of entry into child commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC)
  • Sex trafficking facilitators control 4.5 victim/survivors on average
  • 42% of first-time prostitution arrests are in fact cases involving sex trafficking
  • Domestic trafficking accounts for the majority of CSEP
  • Transborder criminal networks are involved in trafficking minors and adults between Mexico and the United States. 20% of trafficking victims referred to service providers come from Mexico and 10 other countries
  • Female recruiters and pimp/sex trafficking facilitators are perceived to be a significant and growing feature of the underground sex economy
  • Significant CSEC recruitment is happening on high school and middle school campuses

[1] Hereafter “Gang Sex Trafficking in San Diego” .


  1. Matt Osborne says

    Thanks for doing this study and for shedding credible light on this incredibly dark and evil violence.

  2. Rachelle Kimberling says

    A wise person said “research is truth” therefore this is the beginning of unraveling our misconceptions and collaboratively focus on strategies to reduce this social problem. Much thanks and appreciation for producing this missing link as a guide to forge ahead.

  3. John Stanton says


    Where is the actual study? Is it published? Is it peer reviewed?

    “Organized Crime Groups differ from gangs in their hidden or ‘underground’ nature’ … Examples included a devil worshipping ring, a child protection ring in a beachside community, and a transborder child sex trafficking ring.”

    How did you verify the information that people gave you? Did you actually use these online services to see how they worked? You can’t take the word of these people. What is you actual evidence?

    Seeing mention of a devil worshipping ring as being at the top level of this underground world requires extraordinary evidence and you admit you only heard it from someone who heard it from a friend. Wow. My BS detector is sounding alarm bells!

  4. Thank you so much for doing this study! The more we know, the more we are able to help the victims. May God reward you for your very hard labors.

  5. Stanley Graham says

    Congratulations to PLNU and USD on your courage to conduct and publish this groundbreaking study on this often misunderstood and frequently avoided topics in today’s San Diego County.

  6. thank you sir.

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