NATIONAL CITY, Calif. - Underage girls as young as 12 are working as prostitutes near Naval Base San Diego.
They are recruited by older prostitutes in malls, and then they are put to work on the "circuit," which includes National City Boulevard.
The boulevard is part of a circuit where prostitutes work in Las Vegas. After a few months, the girls move to the San Diego area and after time here, they move on to Los Angeles.
National City Police Officer Colleen Stanich works the circuit and called the situation a grim reality she fights every day.
Stanich has talked to many of the girls on the local circuit and said older prostitutes recruit the younger girls easily because they know just what to say.
"Let's go to the mall, get our nails done, get our hair done...next thing you know she's in the life with her," Stanich said about the recruitment by older prostitutes. "The whole time there was a pimp running the whole thing but the little girl didn't know!"
One working girl told Stanich pimps drop the underage girls in the area to attract the sailors. Stanich said she knows the girls hook up with sailors outside the base, but she also said the girls go onto the base.
Stanich said the women and girls know when the Navy ships come in and they are ready on the circuit during those times.
Under U.S. military law, the legal age of consent on base is 16 years old.
The Public Affairs Office for Navy Region Southwest released this statement in response to this story:
"The area of Main Street near Naval Base San Diego, from the 2600 block to the 3600 block, has for many years been known for the potential of illegal and sometimes dangerous activity. For the safety of our sailors and to maintain good order and discipline, that stretch of Main Street is off limits to all sailors from midnight to 4 a.m. every day. Annual mandatory training is provided to our uniformed people regarding the realities and consequences of prostitution and trafficking in persons, as well as other prohibited and criminal activity. Criminal activity by Navy personnel is punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice."