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Monterey County DA implements Human Trafficking Enforcement Program

UPDATE 1/30/2018 5:25 p.m.:

The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office is implanting a human trafficking enforcement program.

Five years ago, the state legislature enacted Senate Bill 1193, which mandated certain businesses post a notice informing people about human trafficking, as well as a number to report the crime. The DA’s Office realized, not many businesses were following the law and are launching a campaign to change that.

Posters in English, Spanish and Tagalog will be mailed or delivered to certain businesses. These businesses include airports, light rail stations, bus stations, truck stops, hospitals, urgent cars and massage establishments. The posters are required to have information about human trafficking and must be posted in conspicuous places where visitors and employees can see it. Businesses don’t have to use the DA’s poster, regardless something needs to be posted now.

“When our law enforcement observes the poster isn’t there, they’ll give them a notice of non-compliance,” said Assistant District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni. “They have 30 days to put the poster up at that point to avoid a $500 civil penalty. On a second violation, then they’ll get a $1000 penalty.”

According to the DA’s Office, human trafficking is one of the fasted growing criminal enterprises in the United States. Up to 17,500 victims are trafficked into the U.S. every year, with California being one of the top four trafficking destinations.

In Monterey County, authorities say sex workers and laborers are the most exploited.

“We have Highway 101 and we have lots of entertainment events and sporting events. We have Laguna Seca, we have the AT&T Pro-Am. We have the Pebble Beach Food and Wine, we have the Concours. We have a large hospitality industry and a large agricultural industry. All of these things combined make us a ripe location for this type of offense.”

The Monterey County Rape Crisis Center received about 18 calls from self-identified survivors of trafficking last year. They hope these posters will encourage victims to get help and deter pimps from coming to our area.

“I see these posters as a way to reach out to survivors of human trafficking, who by the way are the least likely people to pick up the phone of any crime victim,” said Clare Mounteer, executive director of the Monterey Rape Crisis Center. “You’re not going to get a call to 911 saying ‘I’m the survivor of human trafficking, please help me.’ They just don’t come forward as easily. By the same token, they also need a lot more support than almost any other crime victim.”

The DA’s Office also wants to launch a website where users can see where these required businesses are. If they don’t see a poster there, they can alert law enforcement online. It’s mirrored after something similar to Alameda County.

ORIGINAL POST: A big announcement was made today when it comes to how human trafficking is handled in Monterey County.

Officials say human trafficking is an estimated $32 billion-a-year global industry. After drug trafficking, human trafficking is the world’s second most criminal enterprise.

The California Legislature Enacted Senate Bill 1193 in 2013. This law mandates specified businesses and other establishments to post a notice informing the public and victims of human trafficking of a national telephone hotline to assist in reporting unlawful activity. It has come to the attention of the District Attorney’s Office, that the required businesses in Monterey County are rarely in compliance with the law.

Now, Monterey County officials want to make sure the word gets out about a civil code that mandates certain businesses to post a notice. In response to the poor compliance demonstrated by local required businesses, the District Attorney’s Office is implementing a Human Trafficking enforcement program.

Their goal is to gain compliance from the required businesses so that victims and the public have access to the information provided in the poster. To assist the businesses, the District Attorney’s Office will be distributing a compliant poster to all the identified required business and locations in Monterey County.

Compliance checks will occur once the posters have been distributed. Businesses or establishments will be provided with notice of noncompliance and potential for civil penalties. They will be given 30 days from the date of the notice to correct the violation. Businesses or establishments who fail to comply following violation notices are liable for a civil penalty of five hundred dollars ($500) for a first offense and one thousand dollars for each subsequent offense ($1,000).

KION’s Mariana Hicks will have more on this story at 5 and 6.

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