Study: Sex trafficking continues to grow in San Diego County

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jun 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-21 22:06:43-04

A newly released report shows the child sex trafficking industry in San Diego continues to grow at a rapid rate.

Ebony Jones, who spent five years selling herself sexually, told 10News, "I became a traffic victim when I was 18 years old. It was introduced to me by a friend."

Jones' friend led her into a shadowy, dangerous world.

"I slid by death about three times and decided it was time to get out before I lost my life," Jones said.

Disease and violence were among Jones' main concerns, adding that she has "been held at gunpoint by buyers, by pimps."

Now, she's joining the effort to bring more attention to this booming industry. Jones is part of a Joan B. Kroc School of Peace study focusing on sex trafficking.

Experts say many predators are teens, with some even pre-teens.

University of San Diego professor Ami Carpenter said, "It's a problem of our children recruiting our children."

The study has frightening data.

Carpenter added, "One-hundred percent of schools in our study reported recruitment on their campuses."

The study found 110 street gangs are involved in sex trafficking in San Diego County.

Several days ago, a law enforcement operation broke up a sex trafficking ring in San Marcos. As part of "Operation Hotel Tango," a man and two women were arrested on accusations of pimping and pandering.

Victims can find help, but it's scant, as many social service programs are under-resourced.

"We have 3 to 8,000 victims per year and we have 29 beds in the county to serve that population," said Carpenter.

She said it takes an average of five interventions to help someone break free.

"The psychological manipulation and coercion that traffickers use is very intentional and extremely hard to break," Carpenter said.

As for Jones, she said, "I tell my story around the world now."

For her, as it was for the three arrested last Friday, it's game over.