The United States Attorney's office announced a new project that comprehensively addresses human trafficking.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) places San Diego County is at the top of the list for the worst regions in the country for human trafficking.

However, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, reported that San Diego is also a place where the authorities have the best results against human trafficking for labor or sexual exploitation.

“The Southern District of California is proud to be a leader in the fight against human trafficking. It has prosecuted more defendants than any other district in the country: as of January 2021, 262 defendants in 93 separate cases," Garland said.

He said the Southern District of California is "a national leader in all types of human trafficking prosecutions, ranging from child sex trafficking to forced labor trafficking to forcible adult sex trafficking, fraud or coercion." 

District Attorney Garland praised in particular two recent human trafficking cases that ended in convictions in San Diego. Labor trafficking charges were filed against individuals from Imperial Valley Ministries, who coerced dozens of people, mostly homeless, to give up their welfare benefits and forced them to beg for up to nine hours a day, six days a week, for the financial benefit of church leaders.

Charges were filed against the operators of the "Girls Do Porn" website, who set up a national scheme out of San Diego that tricked and coerced women into doing porn.

The U.S. Attorney's Office announced that it is leading a new multilateral project that is also part of a national plan against human trafficking, in charge of the Working Group against Human Trafficking, which brings together all law enforcement agencies.

Some of the goals are to establish new screening protocols, provide victim-centered assistance to trafficking survivors, further support efforts to provide financial restoration to victims and expand the dissemination of training, guidance, and federal experience on human trafficking.

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