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As I’ve begun to form relationships with local anti-trafficking organizations as I lead the LBD.Project on the west coast, I’ve gathered together some research about what human trafficking in San Diego looks like. Whether you are participating with us in the LBD.Project to bring freedom to modern slaves or whether you are just a local who cares, these facts about human trafficking are vital to know.

Human trafficking in san diego

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is the use of human beings as a commodity for the profit of others using force, fraud or coercion. It is also known as modern day slavery defined as sex trafficking or labor trafficking.

What are some human trafficking stats in San Diego?

  • After drug trafficking, human trafficking is the world’s second most profitable criminal enterprise, a status it shares with illegal arms trafficking. (1)
  • At $810 million per year, sex trafficking is San Diego’s second largest underground economy, even above illegal arms. (1)
  • 85% of traffickers are affiliated with gangs, earning $671,000 annually in San Diego Country. (8)
  • In San Diego County, recruitment occurs on middle and high school campuses and the average age of entry into the sex trade is 15-16. (10 & 8)
  • Three of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas are in California: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. -San Diego was ranked 8th in the nation! (4)
  • There an estimated 8,830 to 11,773 commercially sexually exploited people in San Diego per year. (10)
  • 31% of undocumented, spanish-speaking migrant workers in San Diego County have experienced labor trafficking. (11)
  • California had the highest level of reported trafficking cases- about a third more than Texas, the second highest reported state. (9)
  • There were almost eight times more female victims reported than male. (9)
  • In all 20 middle and high schools surveyed accross San Diego county, sex trafficking was happening. (8)

Who is at risk?

Although exploitation in the form of human trafficking can occurs in all backgrounds and socioeconomic groups, stats show the following groups are more at risk:

  • Runaways, “disappeared,” and homeless youth
  • Teenage girls and LGBTQ youth (3 & 8)
  • Those in foster care system (8)
  • Past trauma or abuse (3)
  • Those will low self esteem and low social support (8)

Two Interviews With Sex Trafficking Survivors

Who is fighting human trafficking in San Diego?

The organizations the LBD.Project have partnered with so far in San Diego are:

In addition, these are others who are active in fighting trafficking in San Diego County I know of:

If you or someone you know might be being trafficked, please call 1-888-373-7888,  text: 233733, or go to

If human trafficking bothers you, please join us doing the LBD.Project through March.  It is an easy way to help ordinary people make a difference about human trafficking.

Start here or pick up our 31 Days of Human Trafficking Facts by clicking the image below:

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Freedom is the New Black, So join us as we fight human trafficking






4. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Efforts to Combat Crimes Against Children, Audit Report 09-08, January 2009


6. Hedlin, S., Monto, M., and Trouteaud, A. Demand Abolition. San Diego Survey Results; Online Survey Fielded Dec ’16 – Jan ’17.

7. Project Concern International. – San Diego Sex Customers. Data Collected: April 28-May 04, 2017

8. Carpenter, Ami and Gates, Jamie. Gangs and Sex Trafficking In San Diego. National Institute of Justice.  April, 2016.

9. National Human Trafficking Hotline. 2017. California State Statistics.

10. National Institute of Justice, “Gangs and Sex Trafficking in San Diego” September 2 20, 2016, from

11. Polaris. 2018. Labor Trafficking.

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