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San Clemente to Fight Human Trafficking Through Stronger Oversight of At-Risk Businesses

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif.—Hotels and personal service businesses like massage parlors and nail salons have become a hotbed for human trafficking in San Clemente, California, prompting city officials to push for stronger oversight of such establishments.

“In terms of quality of life and the safety and security of our residents, we don’t want those establishments here,” Mayor Pro Tem Chris Duncan said during a May 25 city council meeting.

At the meeting, officials voted unanimously to implement a plan with preventative actions against human trafficking by recognizing cases of or forced labor more effectively.

The plan was created in January by the city council’s Public Safety Committee, which works with city staff, , and the i-5 Freedom Network—a San Clemente-based non-profit fighting to end human trafficking—to address potential issues at massage establishments and similar businesses that provide illicit services.

The plan identified three priorities to stop modern-day slavery from crossing city lines.

The first would be to delegate at least one city employee to enforce compliance at targeted establishments using an inspection sheet based on existing regulations and annual licensing requirements.

Secondly, the city would educate hotels, motels, and other establishments to recognize and report human trafficking cases and reward compliant businesses.

Finally, the city would include human trafficking information in community forums and schools and encourage citizens to create civilian-run crime prevention programs like the Neighborhood Watch to help rescue victims from their traffickers.

Adam Atamian, deputy community development director of the committee, recommended the city create an inspection program to search two random massage establishments unannounced annually.

Atamian said during the meeting that approximately 12 massage parlors are currently operating in San Clemente, including standard massage businesses, sole proprietorships, and nail salons that also provide a massage service.

“From time to time, we get some complaints submitted about illicit activities,” he said.

Committee also receives reports of such activities from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which performs stings “a couple of times a year” under the city’s current ordinance that allows unannounced random inspections, Atamian said.

The pre-existing ordinance also prohibits locking massage room doors or allowing customers to receive services in the nude.

“While mildly uncomfortable, people should be able to get up and open the door in a reasonable amount of time,” he said while describing a random inspection.

According to a city report, it costs the city about $2,500 to conduct 40 hours of random inspection per year. If the council chose to do inspections more frequently, the cost would be around $15,000 per year.

Alejandra Baker, programs director of i-5 Freedom Network, said during the meeting, “survivors whom we serve have been literally traumatized and abused over and over.”

Baker said because traffickers force nine out of ten victims of sex trafficking into performing lewd acts against their will, the nonprofit suggested city officials arrest business owners and traffickers rather than the victims.

“[Traffickers are] forcing these women into laboring for in exchange for shelter,” she said. “This is not a condition that we want to offer here in San Clemente.”

Recently, Baker said, the nonprofit completed an operation at a Lake Forest hotel where 19 men, who responded to an ad for prostitution, were caught and charged by authorities.

“There were no [human trafficking] signs in the hotel,” she said, adding that hotel employees were often untrained in identifying traces of such activity. “We really encourage [the city] to take further action to prevent this from happening here in San Clemente.”

Brandon Drey

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Brandon Drey is a California-based reporter for The Epoch Times.

 

EYES ON TRAFFICKING

This “Eyes on Trafficking” story is reprinted from its original location.

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ABOUT PBJ LEARNING

PBJ Learning is a leading provider of online human trafficking training, focusing on and prevention education. Their interactive Human Trafficking Essentials is used worldwide to educate professionals and individuals how to recognize human trafficking and how to respond to potential victims. Learn on any web browser (even your mobile phone) at any time.

More stories like this can be found in your PBJ Learning Knowledge Vault.

 

EYES ON TRAFFICKING

This “Eyes on Trafficking” story is reprinted from its original online location.

ABOUT PBJ LEARNING

PBJ Learning is a leading provider of online human trafficking training, focusing on awareness and prevention education. Their interactive Human Trafficking Essentials online course is used worldwide to educate professionals and individuals how to recognize human trafficking and how to respond to potential victims. Learn on any web browser (even your mobile phone) at any time.

More stories like this can be found in your PBJ Learning Knowledge Vault.