Join The Fight Against Human Trafficking Here in Santa Clara County!
By Cindy Chavez, Santa Clara County Supervisor, District Two
“Out of sight, out of mind” is a sad but fitting way to describe how human trafficking has grown into a multi-billion dollar illicit industry across the globe. Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery that transcends gender, age, ethnic, socioeconomic and national boundaries. The most vulnerable of us are susceptible to traffickers’ use of deception, fraud, threats, coercion, violence, debt bondage and other manipulative strategies to force people into commercial sex or labor.
The FBI has identified the Bay Area as one of the nation’s top four hubs for human trafficking. That is why one of my primary foci since joining the Board of Supervisors has been to expose and combat the scourge of human trafficking in Santa Clara County.
In 2014, I proposed, and the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved, the creation of the Santa Clara County Human Trafficking Commission, which I cochair with Sheriff Laurie Smith and District Attorney Jeff Rosen. The Human Trafficking Commission has already worked on a number of high-profile campaigns, including collaborating with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to provide human trafficking awareness training to all VTA drivers beginning in March, 2015, and launching the Santa Clara County Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign in December, 2015.
In the first week of the training provided to VTA drivers and fare inspectors, the Office of the Sheriff received eight tips. VTA employees wished they had this knowledge before, as they recalled many suspicious situations that had occurred in the past. One of the VTA drivers who received this training recognized that passengers on his bus seemed to match the description of a kidnapper and his toddler abductee texted from the VTA operations center. He acted, and when the bus reached the Fremont BART Station, police officers immediately apprehended the captor and rescued the child. The hero driver, Tim Watson, credited the human trafficking training he had received the week before.
We need strong enforcement, too, so the County has also funded new teams in the Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s offices dedicated to fighting human trafficking. The Law Enforcement to Investigate Human Trafficking (LEIHT) Task Force has investigators from the Sheriff, local police and the FBI. The work of the LEIHT Task Force has already paid off with the arrest of multiple human traffickers and rescue of victims from both sex and labor trafficking.
We need your help in identifying, reporting and raising awareness about human trafficking. In collaboration with our community partners, Santa Clara County’s Office of Women’s Policy has developed training materials to help raise awareness and decrease the number of people trafficked in our neighborhoods. Please learn the red flags of human trafficking and remember: if you see something, say something.
To view the County’s Human Trafficking training video and brochure, please visit: