Governor Signs Measure to Crackdown on Sex Trafficking

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

(SACRAMENTO) – Governor Brown signed Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra’s (D-Pacoima) legislation that will provide law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Sacramento with a new tool to curb sex-trafficking on city streets and in neighborhoods. The measure, Assembly Bill 1206, will give law enforcement agencies the authority to conduct two-year studies in which they will be permitted to seize the vehicles of “johns” and pimps that are used during solicitation of prostitution.

“We must protect our neighborhoods from people who are taking advantage of men and women who are being trafficked and forced into acts beyond their control,” said Assemblymember Bocanegra.  “Unfortunately, many parts of my district have suffered from increasing incidences of prostitution and sex-trafficking, and it is up to the legislature to provide law enforcement with all available tools to end sex trafficking once and for all.  This is a message to those involved at every level of human trafficking that we will not tolerate this activity.”

The measure will allow the Cities of Los Angeles, Oakland, and Sacramento to adopt ordinances permitting the seizure of vehicles used in the act of soliciting prostitution. Under existing law, law enforcement can only seize a vehicle if the john or pimp has a prior conviction within the last three years. At the conclusion of the program, the measure will require each the city to issue a report to the Legislature and to the public about the law’s impact on illegal solicitation and human trafficking.

“For years I’ve looked for a partner in Sacramento to help push this bill, and finally found one with the leadership of Assemblymember Bocanegra,” said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez. “I am so happy that the State has given us one more tool in the toolbox to stop the abuse of young women and men at the hands of pimps, predators and pedophiles. Make no mistake about it, the vehicle is a major piece in the commission of that crime. These johns will not use that car to perpetrate another violent act.”

It has been well-documented that the San Fernando Valley has been plagued by prostitution over the past decade.  In response to the epidemic, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) created the “Valley Bureau Human Trafficking Task Force.” In 2016, LAPD’s task force made more than 500 arrests, issued more than 3,000 citations, and rescued at least 10 human trafficking victims, eight of whom were minors. One of the most popular venues for prostitution and sex trafficking is the motor vehicle, which serves as not only a venue for service, but also a venue for transportation of individuals against their will.  The task force regularly receives complaints citing motor vehicles parking in residential driveways while services are rendered. And residents have also reported used condoms, wrappers, needles and syringes on their driveways, sidewalks, and streets.

"AB 1206 will provide a forceful deterrent that will prevent ‘johns’ from seeking to purchase sex in the future, while at the same time signaling to the public at large that this will not be tolerated,” said Vice Mayor Annie Campbell Washington of Oakland. “I want to thank Assembly Member Bocanegra for his leadership on this important policy topic and for including the City of Oakland as one of the pilot cities.   While we recognize that putting an end to human trafficking is a multifaceted effort, we believe that greater enforcement efforts are not only required, but desperately needed which is why we are proud to support this bill and thank the Governor for signing it into law.”

“We are excited to have another tool in our continuing efforts to combat human trafficking,” said Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn. “It is the customers and the exploiters who are the driving force behind this exploitation, and this law will help to deter them from further victimization”

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Raul Bocanegra is the Democratic Majority Whip in the California State Assembly.  He represents the 39th Assembly District, which includes the Los Angeles communities of Arleta, Granada Hills, Lakeview Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hollywood, Pacoima, Shadow Hills, Sun Valley, Sunland-Tujunga, Sylmar and the City of San Fernando.