District attorney Zellerbach joins with others to support human trafficking bill

RIVERSIDE – On April 7, Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach joined with State Senator Marty Block and officials from the District Attorney’s Offices in San Diego, Orange and Alameda counties at a news conference in San Diego to support the passage of Senate Bill 939.

The bill would make it possible for prosecutors to file multiple charges against a defendant who commits human trafficking-related crimes in multiple jurisdictions across California and would hold them accountable in a single prosecution. The proposed law would eliminate multiple trials in different jurisdictions thus streamlining prosecutions, saving taxpayer dollars, and sparing human trafficking victims the trauma of facing their traffickers in more than one trial.

“It is estimated that 21 million men, women, and children are being trafficked for commercial sex or forced labor worldwide,” Zellerbach said. “The United Nations estimates that human trafficking is a $32 billion a year industry. Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States and in Southern California.”

“Senate Bill 939, authored by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, will create a unified process for conducting a single trial related to all human trafficking and related offenses that may occur in multiple jurisdictions. It thwarts efforts by organized criminals to exploit jurisdictional boundaries,” Zellerbach said.

SB939 will amend current Penal Code section 787.4 to add human traffickers and exploiters to the list of crimes that are committed by serial perpetrators such as child molesters and rapists to hold them accountable for all crimes in any jurisdiction in which they operate.

The Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking task force (RCAHT) was formed in 2010 and is a collaborative partnership which includes the DA’s Office, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the county Probation Department as well as Operation SafeHouse which provides services to victims.

Since Jan. 1, 2012, the RCAHT task force has investigated 160 human trafficking leads coming in from a variety of sources. Since the formation of the task force, Operation SafeHouse has provided services to 169 human-trafficking victims.

Potential human trafficking situations can be reported at anytime to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center by calling toll-free (888) 373-7888. The RCAHT task force can be contacted via email at [email protected] or via an anonymous toll-free reporting line at (855) 758-3733.

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