The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office and Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office received
$1.34 million from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs to combat human trafficking in the county.
The funding will benefit the District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Task Force.
As a premiere tourist destination, Santa Barbara county is a magnet for human trafficking.
Victims Witness Assistant Program Director Megan Rheinschild said many of the victims are born and raised here.
“Many of the girls being trafficked are coming from Santa Barbara County itself and are mostly being advertised on the internet and are being sold for money and exploited by pimps,” said Rheinschild.
District Attorney Joyce Dudley said many of the victims are underage and vulnerable.
“Some of them start as early as age 11. So to think that is happening to children of Santa Barbara County at age 11. That’s frightening,” said Dudley.
The funding will be used to help victims and bring the traffickers to justice.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown released this statement: “Human trafficking is the 21st century equivalent to slavery and includes crimes that for too long have been in the shadows. With this grant, we will be able to proactively help victims of illegal servitude and bring those responsible for their abduction to justice.”