AB 156 expands wiretapping law to include human trafficking
Human trafficking is a $32 billion dollar a year enterprise and California is one of its top destinations. A growing number of these victims are girls and boys – sometimes as young as 12 or 13 who are brought into California and forced into prostitution. It is a crime both nationally and internationally. But, like drug and arms trafficking, it is one of the most difficult to pursue.
That’s why Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) has introduced legislation designed to give law enforcement a new tool to crack down on the bad guys. Under AB 156, law enforcement officers will be able to get a court order for a wiretap when they suspect human trafficking of minors.
“You would think in this day and age when traffickers have become more sophisticated, law enforcement would have all the tools it needs to stop these criminals. But you would be wrong,” said Assemblymember Holden. “This bill will change that and help stop this modern-day slavery that threatens our children, our families and our neighborhoods.”
Law enforcement is currently authorized to obtain a court order to wiretap for investigation of drug trafficking or criminal gang activity, but not human trafficking. Under this bill, law enforcement officers can ask a judge for wiretap permit to investigate sex trafficking of a minor.
Estimates are that 100,000 children nationwide are exploited each year.
“The California Police Chiefs Association takes human trafficking very, very seriously”, stated John Lovell, Legislative Advocate for the Association. “California’s wiretap laws have been crucial in going after complex, multi-level criminal activities. The reality is that human trafficking is an organized criminal enterprise, and the full range of enforcement tools are needed to combat this particular crime.”
“It is heartbreaking to hear the stories of these youngsters who are pimped and branded and badly mistreated. I think of my daughter and her friends and I want to do everything possible to stop these horrible crimes. It’s the least we can do to protect our children,” concluded Holden.
Similar laws are already on the books in several other states including Texas, Illinois and Maryland.