LOS ANGELES – January has been proclaimed as “Human Trafficking Awareness Month.” With this in mind, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced the steps her office has taken to combat the fastest growing trend among criminal street gangs in Los Angeles County – commercial sex trafficking.
“Gang members are luring victims as young as 12 years old into prostitution,” Lacey said during a news conference Tuesday to observe Human Trafficking Awareness Month. “Selling a girl several times a day is more lucrative than selling drugs or guns.”
The district attorney said she formed the office’s first Human Trafficking Unit and appointed a coordinator last July to combat human trafficking in all forms.
“For too long, these pimps have exploited young women while cowardly hiding in the shadows,” Lacey said. “Today, we shine a light on human sex trafficking and pledge to stamp out these criminal enterprises.”
“To gang members – your days of making money from the sexual exploitation of runaways and homeless youth are numbered,” she said.
Lacey said the unit streamlines the prosecution of human trafficking cases, bringing together specialized deputy district attorneys from the Sex Crimes, Organized Crime, Hardcore Gang and Juvenile divisions and the Victim Impact Program. The unit also includes representatives from the Victim-Witness Assistance Program and the district attorney’s Bureau of Investigation.
The unit already is seeing results, Lacey said. Last year, the district attorney’s office nearly tripled the number of human trafficking charges filed, from 28 in 2013 to 75 in 2014.
Among the notable convictions in 2014 was Bruce Kelcy Gordon, a 30-year-old Palmdale pimp known as “King Kong,” who forced a 14-year-old girl into prostitution for more than seven years while he also sexually abused her. He “stamped” the victim with tattoos, including one saying “King Kong” above her eyebrow. Gordon was sentenced in October to 27 years to life in state prison for human trafficking, sodomy by use of force and a lewd act on a child. Read more here.
“My prosecutors will seek to secure the maximum possible sentences for these heinous crimes against some of society’s most vulnerable victims,” Lacey said.