In recognition of Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Woodland Police Department released a video explaining how human trafficking can exist in Woodland.
In the video, Sgt. Victoria Danzl asks Detective Mathew Jameson to explain the different types of human trafficking — labor trafficking and commercial sex trafficking.
Jameson said his office does not handle a lot of labor trafficking cases — when somebody is forced to work to pay off a debt. The person forcing the debtor to work can take their identification cards in order to stay in control.
Labor trafficking is most common in immigrant communities, according to Jameson. Victims can be forced to sell fruit on the road to repay their debts.
The city sees more cases of commercial sex trafficking, which involves forced prostitution and every form of juvenile prostitution. Unlike larger cities, Woodland does not see a lot of street prostitution. Rather, victims are often trafficked through the internet.
Commercial sex trafficking victims are forced to have sex for money through manipulation, threats of violence or by promising love, according the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“This is an epidemic that stretches beyond jurisdictions so even though, in Woodland, we don’t have an area where we see prostitution, it doesn’t mean it’s not going on,” Jameson said.
While prostitution is not common in Woodland, victims of commercial sex trafficking will often be taken to other areas. Jameson said that victims may be taken to the Bay Area, Las Vegas or even Oregon.
“Because they are always moving, it’s hard for law enforcement to catch them in the act,” Jameson said.
Danzl, who has a teenage daughter, asked Jameson how she could possibly find out if her daughter was involved in commercial sex trafficking.
Jameson explained that most juveniles involved in trafficking will have a pattern of running away. When they return, they may have more money, a new phone and their hair and nails done.
“Although human trafficking in Woodland may not be as evident as it is in other communities, it does exist,” Danzl said at the end of the video. “Please refer back to what detective Jameson said to signs and symptoms to look for human trafficking in the city of Woodland.”
If you or someone you know may be involved in human trafficking, please call the Woodland Police at 666-2411.