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San Mateo County Launches Zero Tolerance Policy On Human Trafficking

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(CBS)

(CBS)

SAN MATEO (KCBS) –San Mateo County authorities are taking a hard stance against human trafficking, as it attempts to become the first “Zero Tolerance Community” in the country.

Hundreds of thousands of people each year are forced, coerced or threatened into becoming victims of human trafficking. And it’s not just people brought into the country from overseas.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:

Jill grew up in the Bay Area and never dreamed she would fall victim to something like this.

“Basically, they’ll look for someone that’s vulnerable,” she said. “I had gone through a divorce and my family was from a broken home.”

She was taken in by a group of people, who drugged, raped and videotaped her the very first night. Jill said it happened over and over again for years before she was finally able to break free and get some help.

“We have seen that many of the drug traffickers move into this business because they make just as much money and the penalties that are imposed are not as severe,” said Peninsula Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who is making efforts to strengthen the nation’s trafficking laws.

But San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer said efforts must start on the ground.

“This type of education awareness and training, particularly not just for first responders, but for the communities around them is something that we all need to be collaborative about,” said Manheimer.

Once a threat is identified, than prosecutors like San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe can get involved.

“Once we have that, then we can block off these predators,” he said.

Speier said there is not a county in California that hasn’t seen it’s fair share of human trafficking and the problem is getting worse with the onset of technology and the internet.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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