CdeBaca is the Director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and is working with Sanchez and other representatives towards practical solutions to the problem.
“We’re working on a legislation package to make some very straight-forward technical corrections so that we can prosecute better what is really happening in the United States–that is organized crime, using people simply for profit,” Sanchez said.
CdeBaca reminded the audience in Newport Mesa Church that these actions can only be accomplished through the public’s insistence.
“The way we give [Congress] the oxygen, the way we give them the jet fuel to do this, is by people demanding,” CdeBaca said.
These crimes, selling men, women and children for coerced sex and labor, are kept secret. Although the automatic response to such an issue is to create laws that would immediately imprison johns, pimps and slave traders for life, the OC Human Trafficking Task Force is more committed to rescuing the abused men and women.
“[It is] much better to have someone saved and taken out of a life of slavery and exploitation than to worry about getting a [court] case together and making a conviction,” said Lt. Derek Marsh, who is the law enforcement chair of the task force.
Simply by learning the hotline number to report potential victims, audiences have played major roles in rescues. The problem is local, national and international and work is being done on all levels.
“We’re working very hard in Washington,” Sanchez said. “But let me tell you, I’m very proud of the work that is going on here locally also.”
Vanguard students have a history of calling with tips, most recently regarding the massage parlor by Starbucks on Del Mar and Newport Blvd. But without catching the perpetrators in the act, there can be no raid leading to arrest and helping the victims.
Trafficking is so common in Orange County that Lt. Marsh had to leave directly after the forum to go help out a bust in Anaheim. Director Sandy Morgan, who is also head of the OC Human Trafficking Task Force, clarified that this was not minutes after receiving a phone call. Every bust is the result of planning, waiting and red tape.
“This isn’t like a one hour program on TV like ‘Law and Order.’ We have to get surveillance, then a search warrant. That doesn’t happen in a commercial,” Morgan said.
Morgan also stressed understanding how the law of supply and demand applies to the trafficking business.
“The community is what changes the social climate to reduce the demand. As long as there is a demand, the traffickers will continue to provide supply because they make money on it,” she said.
To report suspicious or potential human trafficking activity, call the OCHTTF at 883-373-7888.