SAN DIEGO — San Diego police are cracking down on prostitution off Main Street near Naval Station San Diego.
Just last week, officers said they rescued a minor in the area who was a victim of sex trafficking.
Two weeks ago, News 8 aired a video of prostitution along Dalbergia Street east of Main Street. Business owners complained of overt solicitation on the streets, which was scaring customers away.
San Diego Police Vice Lieutenant Juan Sanchez said his officers were seeing the same thing.
“We are observing females that are dressed provocatively with very minimal clothing, flagging down vehicles, and/or impeding traffic,” Sanchez said.
SDPD officers responded within the past two weeks, Sanchez said, targeting prostitution and loitering for the intent of prostitution.
“We're also addressing issues targeting the sex buyers who drive up the demand and obviously our concern is combating human trafficking,” said Sanchez.
Business owners told News 8 the crackdown has made a difference but still the prostitution continues.
News 8 recorded video of two streetwalkers on Dalbergia Street Tuesday during daylight hours.
“I don't know if there's a way to stop it. We're going to try and stop it but the demand from the sex buyers is really what drives prostitution activity,” said Lt. Sanchez.
Solicitation of prostitution is a misdemeanor but when a minor becomes involved the crime can be elevated to felony sex trafficking, as was the case last week.
“We did recover a 17-year-old human trafficking victim who was saved from this general area,” said Sanchez.
“You have victims that are being forced to do this type of activity. Oftentimes victims are forced at gunpoint, that we've heard. There are girls who have no other option but to do that because of fear and coercion,” said Sanchez.
The vice lieutenant said his offers frequently conduct interviews on the streets and rescue children from the sex trade.
“We're always assessing, trying to see if they are victims of human trafficking, and get them the resources needed to get out of that lifestyle,” he said.
SDPD is a member of the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force, which includes several agencies from San Diego County.
Lt. Sanchez said, so far this year, the task force has assisted in 240 arrests countywide targeting sex buyers.
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