Human Trafficking in Ventura County

Posted by Sandy Warren
 
Human Trafficking a Persistent Problem
In Ventura County Says Sheriff's Deputy
 
For Aaron Grass, Senior Deputy in the Special Crimes Unit of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, human trafficking is an an all-too-real (and growing) problem. Speaking to members and guests of Ventura Rotary South at our November 19 meeting, Officer Grass offered a sobering look at the perpetrators and victims of this crime that affects virtually all parts of California and most other states.
 
In its simplest legal definition, human trafficking is the depriving of one person's personal liberty by another. Its most common form involves the coercion and control of one or more individuals for paid sex, but labor trafficking in other industries (custodial, construction, agriculture) is also common.
 
"Human trafficking is hard to address on a large scale," said Officer Grass, "because it is so prevalent and so widespread." He noted that, on the positive side, California has very strong laws against the practice. Even the attempt to commit human trafficking carries a minimum sentence of eight years to life in prison.
 
Officer Grass is one of just two members of the Sheriff's Department Special Crimes Unit who work exclusively on enforcement of these laws in Ventura County. He and his partner work both proactively and reactively, conducting surveillance, sting operations, and compliance checks with businesses such as massage parlors. They respond when patrol officers encounter situations where human trafficking is likely.
 
"Human trafficking investigations are complex," said Officer Grass, "but we have support from outside agencies including the FBI, the California Franchise Tax Board, and the District Attorney's Office." As with any crime, the Sheriff's Department appreciates tips from the public in cases where human trafficking is suspected.