(SACRAMENTO) – Today, the Assembly Committee on Public Safety approved Assembly Bill 1882 by Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona) by a bipartisan vote of 6 to 0. AB 1882 would make it a felony to contact a minor over the internet for the purpose of engaging in human trafficking.
In 2016, California had over 1,300 incidences of human trafficking, which is more than double what any other state experienced. That is especially concerning given that so many cases of human trafficking go unreported. In addition, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Sacramento are often cited as being among the biggest human trafficking hubs in the nation.
In late January of this year, a regional human trafficking task force in Southern California arrested more than 500 human trafficking suspects in a sting operation. As part of the operation, law enforcement officials set up decoy accounts soliciting human trafficking on Facebook and other online platforms, and were taken aback by the amount of traffic these accounts generated. Indeed, ongoing integration of the internet and social media into daily life has made platforms such as Facebook and Instagram a more frequent tool for human traffickers to make contact with potential victims.
Under current law, it is only a crime to use the internet to contact a minor with the intent to commit certain offenses, including kidnapping and rape. However, not all human traffickers engage in these specific crimes as part of their illicit activities. This loophole could allow human traffickers to avoid prosecution if they do not commit kidnapping or rape themselves, but otherwise solicit or entrap a minor into a human trafficking ring. AB 1882 would close this loophole by making it a felony to contact a minor with the intent to engage in human trafficking.
“We must do everything we can to end human trafficking,” Assemblymember Cervantes said. “The internet, especially social media, is being used more frequently by human traffickers to prey upon children. Assembly Bill 1882 will help law enforcement combat the growing use of the internet by human traffickers, and protect our children.”
AB 1882 is sponsored by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, and supported by the California State Sheriffs’ Association and the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association.
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Sabrina Cervantes proudly represents the 60th District of the California State Assembly, which encompasses the communities of Corona, Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Norco, and a portion of the City of Riverside.