Fresno agencies fighting to protect Valley citizens from human trafficking

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Human Trafficking Ordinance aims to identify victims so they can be rescued.

Breaking the Chains CEO Debra Rush says hotels on Parkway Drive are now required to keep better records, and that may aid the investigation into the officer's assault.

"Law enforcement should be able to go in and get more detailed information about the registrants at that hotel," Rush said. "Not just on what happened to the officer but how potentially, the young woman involved could be a victim of human trafficking and who are the puppeteers behind that."

Sarah Johnston heads the Fresno EOC Human Trafficking program. She says the ordinance holds hotels more accountable.

"In regards to hotels, it sets specific guidelines about who can be renting," Johnston said. "It's not allowing them to rent on an hourly basis anymore."

Massage parlors are also targeted in the ordinance. They can only open between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

In the past, some parlors closed by authorities for offering illegal services re-opened under supposedly "new" ownership.

"What this ordinance does, among other things, is it says you can't hand that off to a family member," Johnston said. "Once you're shut down, you're shut down."

All of the agencies which met are concentrating on data collection to get a better idea of how many victims of sex and labor trafficking can be identified in the valley.

Some of the victims reported this past year were under the age of 10.

The agencies involved also visit valley schools to help kids and adults understand how traffickers earn the trust of young people.

They say kids should be wary of people they don't know who are reaching out through social media and video games.
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