During National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, Attorney General Bonta Shares Resources to Support Victims and Survivors

Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

Since its launch in 2021, the Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension Team (HT/SPAT) has arrested approximately 677 traffickers and assisted or recovered 754 victims

OAKLAND – During National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, California Attorney General Rob Bonta today reminded Californians of support services available statewide and issued new guidance to help trafficking survivors secure relief for offenses committed as a result of being trafficked. Human Trafficking is the exploitation by force, fraud, fear, or coercion of people, for mandatory labor, domestic servitude, or commercial sex operations. In June 2021, Attorney General Bonta launched DOJ’s two regional Human Trafficking / Sexual Predator Apprehension (HT/SPAT) Teams to help fight the hidden crime of human trafficking, alongside DOJ’s San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force (SDHTTF). DOJ’s Tax Recovery in the Underground Economy Criminal Enforcement (TRUE) Program plays an important role in holding perpetrators accountable for crimes in California's underground economy, including labor trafficking and wage theft.

“We know that helping survivors escape from dangerous situations is only the first step,” said Attorney General Bonta. “We have a responsibility to ensure the long-term health and safety of all who have been exploited by trafficking. That is why I am using the full force of my office to provide resources and assistance to survivors as they recover. We will continue working with the Governor’s Office, Legislature, and our local partners to address this modern-day form of slavery.”

The 2024 Human Trafficking fact sheet provides an analysis of the prosecution efforts conducted by DOJ and highlights of the ways survivors are being supported in their recovery. It also describes how DOJ staff and Special Agents increased enforcement efforts and collaborated with local and federal law enforcement while supporting victims through DOJ’s Victims’ Services Unit (VSU). VSU works tirelessly alongside DOJ's enforcement and prosecution teams to ensure that the safety, recovery, and well-being of survivors remains a priority and that their rights are protected.

Key highlights and statistics from the 2024 fact sheet include: 

  • Since its launch in 2021, the Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension Team (HT/SPAT) has arrested approximately 677 traffickers and assisted or recovered 754 victims.
  • In 2023 alone, the SDHTTF, and the HT/SPAT teams arrested a total of 197 traffickers and assisted or recovered 109 victims.
  • Attorney General Bonta announced the relaunch of Marsy’s Card, an important tool to empower victims of crime. The new card includes additional rights and resources to help, protect, and inform victims, and can be found at oag.ca.gov/victimservices/marsys_law
  • On January 9, 2023, Attorney General Bonta released a Vacatur Relief Toolkit that provides valuable guidance for trafficking survivors to get nonviolent arrests or convictions “vacated” from their records, if they committed those offenses as a result of being a victim of trafficking.

Key enforcement highlights:

  • Operation Bad Barbie: This multiagency, four-day sexual predator apprehension operation was carried out in Kern County in August 2023, and resulted in the arrests of 22 suspects. The operation targeted child predators lurking on websites commonly accessed by youth, where the predators would try to lure victims for sex acts for pay.
  • Operation Better Pathways: As a result of this operation carried out in San Diego and National City in January and February 2023, 48 individuals were arrested for human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and other criminal offenses, and two firearms were recovered, including a ghost gun. During the operation, law enforcement personnel conducted targeted surveillance to directly identify and stop alleged human trafficking and sexual exploitation in real time.
  • Operation White Elephant: This three-day multiagency operation in Fresno concluded on December 1, 2023, and resulted in the arrests of 19 suspects. The operation targeted adults seeking to sexually exploit children by using undercover agents and detectives posing as minors and offering sex for pay.

The fact sheet also covers the work being done in addressing the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) crisis. Native Americans across the country, including in California, have for decades suffered high rates of violence and abduction — especially women and girls with an overwhelming number of the cases of missing or murdered indigenous people lying unresolved. DOJ’s Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA) works in partnership with California’s Native American Tribes and tribal communities throughout the state, and in coordination with local, state and federal justice partners, to address this important issue by raising awareness about MMIP through first-of-their-kind initiatives and legislation.


A copy of the fact sheet can be found here


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