Before you continue reading this, take a few minutes to watch the above video.
The uncensored video was provided by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. A word of caution: It contains profanity and shows a woman being verbally abused and humiliated by her pimp (Behind the Badge OC obscured the victim’s face).
The impact is powerful.
I watched the video as the irate pimp berated and verbally abused his female passenger.
I watched as the young woman cowered and her pimp recorded his obscenity-laden abuse on his cell phone.
I watched as he dropped her off on the boulevard and continued his verbal abuse from across the parking lot.
I watched as she attempted to hide in shame behind a bus stop to no avail.
The feelings I experienced as I watched ran the gamut from disgust to anger to sympathy.
I was disgusted that the young woman could be so dehumanized by another human being.
I was angry at the pimp, and the father in me really wanted to put him in his place. (If you know what I mean).
I felt nothing but sympathy for the young lady who was the subject of the abuse.
She didn’t deserve any of it.
I imagined the young woman in the video was once a little girl playing princess and wondering when her Prince would come.
What happened to her little-girl dreams?
Unfortunately, her prince never came. But she was still waiting to be saved.
Luckily for her, and many others, she was rescued because of the efforts of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF).
Last year, the OCHTTF aided 225 trafficking victims.
What makes the group successful is the collaboration of local, state and federal law enforcement working alongside non-profits, the faith community and social services. Agencies that participate on the OCHTTF are the Anaheim PD, California Highway Patrol, Costa Mesa PD, FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, Irvine PD, O.C. District Attorney’s Office, O.C. Sheriff’s Dept., Santa Ana PD and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
For all of them, the common purpose is combatting human trafficking in all its forms.
The stories are heart wrenching. It’s never the Julia Roberts ending in “Pretty Woman.”
A father in Minnesota contacted the OCHTTF with information his adult daughter was being trafficked in Orange County. She had her 2-year-old son with her. Investigators located her and the child. Her pimp was using the 2-year-old to force her into prostitution. She was allowed to see him only when she had met her quota of clients.
In another case, the OCHTTF responded to information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a missing juvenile was being trafficked in Orange County. The investigation led them to a nearby county where the juvenile was located. Her pimp had the victim tattoo his initials on her face, a not uncommon practice in the pimp subculture. He is awaiting trial.
OCHTTF has become a nationwide model for dealing with human trafficking. Its success is creating a paradigm shift across the country in the way the problem of human trafficking is dealt with.
For many reasons, Orange County is a prime destination for human traffickers across the country. Despite the efforts of law enforcement, many traffickers are willing to take the risk in order to make a higher return.
There are a lot more victims out there.
The 46-year-old suspect in the video was arrested and after being convicted was sentenced to 14 years in state prison for the human trafficking, pimping and pandering of a woman, and attempting to pimp another woman by threats.
Some would argue the sentence was too light.
I encourage you to read the entire 2016/2016 OCHTTF Victim Report. It will provide you with detailed information and demographics on the state of human trafficking in Orange County.
All the agencies involved in the OCHTTF are to be applauded for the time and resources they devote to these efforts.
Hopefully, as agencies across the country jump on board a lot more people will be saved from the evils of human trafficking.
Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.