On one hand, several people can provide anecdotes.
The Rev. Experts have noted that Interstate 5 is a major route for both human and drug trafficking, used by traffickers from San Diego, Los Angeles and the Bay Area to move victims throughout California and nationwide. Yet few people discuss the stretch of Interstate 5 that runs through Stanislaus County. Though truck stops are well known as places for prostitutes to solicit clients, workers at several of the businesses at the Westley I-5 exit, a major truck stop area, said they have few problems.
It turned out the woman had been working the parking lot and flashing drivers at the truck stop, she said. One deputy initially released the woman, and she continued to loiter, but another deputy promised to arrest her if she stuck around, and she eventually left, Carson said. Still, such incidents are rare, and the travel center is vigilant about dealing with them, she said.
Similarly, a woman who worked at the nearby Econo Lodge at the I-5 exit said all the hotel owners know each other and tend to communicate when there is a problem. Though a few young women appeared to be causing a ruckus last summer, there have been no problems lately, she said.
On the other hand, prostitution was a blatant problem in downtown Patterson six or seven years ago, recalled Village Yarns Etc. She recalled that two prostitutes used to work out of an upstairs apartment across the street from her store. She told then-Mayor David Keller, who contacted former police Chief Tyrone Spencer, and the issue eventually seemed to die down, she said.
While Craigslist. Patterson Police Services Chief Tori Hughes said she receives bulletins on human trafficking from time to time, but it is not something her department regularly handles.
Officials with the FBI and the U. However, related cases are prosecuted at times. On April 30, U. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner sentenced year-old Patterson resident William Hal Baldwin to nearly 22 years in prison after he admitted to persuading a minor to participate in sexually explicit acts for the purpose of filming the acts.
If sex trafficking appears to be a hush-hush matter, it is at least as difficult to ascertain how much forced labor occurs in the greater Patterson area. Arsenio Mataka, a West Side native who works as an attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance, said the legal group is starting to focus more efforts on trafficking, though he said has heard about more problems in coastal areas. Complicating matters is that many victims of enslaved labor are afraid to speak up, because of their status as illegal immigrants.
Efforts are under way to combat human trafficking statewide via a North and Central California Anti-Trafficking Task Force that was set up last year, White said. The task force aims to link police agencies with labor officials and other federal agencies to fight trafficking crimes.
It also has training for first responders, such as the California Highway Patrol and street officers, she said. In January, the task force had its first day-long training session, in which officers received a primer on trafficking cases and s to look for in Sacramento.
Fresno hosted a similar session, she said. Authorities also want members of the community to be aware of growing trafficking concerns, she said, even as the Department of Justice seeks to put more culprits behind bars.
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Toggle. So, how big a problem is human trafficking in the greater Patterson area? The truth is there are many unknowns. Recommended for you.
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