Pimps in San Diego are controlling neighborhoods by leveraging the fear of retaliation against locals in exchange for their silence on the parade of nearly-naked women working the streets, a business owner in the heart of a prostitution hotspot said.
“Prostitutes will walk inside of the properties to say, ‘What are you looking at?,’ ‘quit staring.’ And they elaborate a little bit about calling their pimps in order to hurt them or harm them or do something to ‘take care of them,'” a San Diego business owner who spoke to Fox News Digital under the condition of anonymity said of how prostitutes in San Diego near the National City border speak to business owners and employees.
“‘If you’re going to look at me, you got to pay me,'” the prostitutes reportedly tell some business owners in an apparent act of intimidation.
The business owner said the threat of pimps carrying out physical attacks, destroying property or stealing keeps locals quiet from going to the police. Residents and businesses also don’t flag police when tensions flare due to a law that took effect at the start of 2023, which the business owner – and others across the state – says has tied the hands of police from making arrests.
“They are controlling the neighborhood,” he said of the pimps.
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Safer Streets Act
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 357, called the Safer Streets for All Act, in July 2022, which repealed a previous law that banned loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution. The bill was championed as one that would help protect transgender women from reportedly being targeted by police. The law took effect on Jan. 1, 2023.
“The author brought forth this legislation because the crime of loitering has disproportionately impacted Black and brown women and members of the LGBTQ community,” the governor said when signing the bill into law.
“To be clear, this bill does not legalize prostitution. It simply revokes provisions of the law that have led to disproportionate harassment of women and transgender adults. While I agree with the author’s intent, and I am signing this legislation, we must be cautious about its implementation. My administration will monitor crime and prosecution trends for any possible unintended consequences and will act to mitigate any such impacts.”
FBI data show up to 8,000 victims a year are trafficked in San Diego County, with those victimized ranging from women and underage girls, but also young boys and LGBT youths. The San Diego County DA’s website notes that as many as 50% of all youths trafficked in the U.S. are boys, with the majority ranging from ages 11 to 13 years old if they are trafficked for sex purposes.
“Youth who identify as LGBTQ+ are 7.4x more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than their heterosexual and cisgender peers,” the DA’s office states on its website.
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That law has since come under fierce fire from locals, elected officials and police who say it has caused prostitution to spiral, as pimps and prostitutes feel emboldened to flagrantly walk the streets without fear of police intervention.
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Women, girls ‘blatantly trafficked for sex’
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, a Republican, published an opinion piece late last month demanding the repeal of the law, and underscoring how human trafficking has spiked alongside prostitution.
“Girls as young as 13 are being openly sold for sex on San Diego County streets. In fact, women of all ages are being blatantly trafficked for sex, meaning they are forced to walk the streets while their traffickers keep a watchful eye on their every move. One big reason is because California recently repealed the crime of loitering for prostitution with Senate Bill 357,” Stephan wrote in a piece published by The San Diego Union-Tribune. Stephan’s office told Fox News Digital on Tuesday that she remains “firm in believing the legislation should be repealed.”
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Migrant crisis and cartel influence
The DA told Fox News in an interview earlier this month that the majority of sex trafficking victims on the streets of San Diego are locals, with about 20% brought across the border.
“Cartels definitely have an influence on sex trafficking, but we’re finding that it’s more our street gangs, which work for the cartels,” Stephan told Fox News in an interview earlier this month.
The San Ysidro Port of Entry, which sits between San Diego and Tijuana, is the busiest land border crossing in the Western hemisphere, according to the General Services Administration. An estimated 70,000 vehicles cross the border north each day, along with an additional 20,000 pedestrians, the government agency details.
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The San Diego business owner said the spike in prostitution and general crime is an “absolute byproduct” of human trafficking coming over the southern border, and pointed to reports showing the city is one of the worst human trafficking hotspots in the U.S.
Stephan wrote in her op-ed that when Gov. Newsom signed the legislation into law, “he did so with clear trepidation.”
“He made the promise to monitor for unintended consequences and he pledged to act if he saw them,” she said, before calling on the governor “to repeal SB 357 and to also increase penalties for sex buyers who are lining the pockets of traffickers.”
Fox News Digital reached out to Newsom’s office for comment on the op-ed and outcry from locals over prostitution and human trafficking, but did not receive a reply.
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The San Diego business owner said one of his employees recently witnessed attempted human trafficking first-hand, when the employee’s 18-year-old daughter walked out of her father’s apartment to grab something from her car and was approached by a pimp.
The daughter “walked out to pick up something from her vehicle, was approached by a pimp, threatened and [the dad] had to walk out there in order to rescue her,” the business owner said.
The business owner highlighted that prostitution has long been an issue in San Diego, but was about “5%” or “10%” of what is now seen on a regular basis in America’s Finest City. Prostitution began spiraling the day Newsom signed the bill, even before it actually took effect last year, according to the business owner and other sources Fox Digital previously interviewed.
Before the law took effect, “officers had the leverage where they could arrest somebody,” the business owner said, which would cause pimps to move the women to a different location for a week or two before migrating back to the same spot.
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“They weren’t brazen and emboldened. They would hide behind the cars or … they would just come out at night,” the business owner said.
Now, even in torrential downpours like Southern California has seen in the last week, prostitutes will remain stationed on the streets wearing “fishnets and G-strings” waiting on johns for business.
Police in San Diego and other prostitution hotspots in the state have carried out extensive sting operations against some of the sex rings, including at a San Diego massage parlor this year that had long operated a sex-for-pay enterprise. Last month, more than 500 suspected pimps, johns, and sex traffickers were arrested during a statewide anti-human trafficking operation, while dozens of adults and 11 children were rescued from human trafficking.
Buying sex like ‘ordering a hamburger’
Stephan, in her op-ed, compared the easy access to sex to that of a drive-thru line at a fast food restaurant.
“What I saw was an open sex market with young women barely dressed and a line of sex buyers waiting in cars as casually as if they were at a drive through ordering a hamburger. The traffickers, sex sellers and buyers were totally undeterred and carried out their business with impunity,” she recounted of what she’s witnessed.
The business owner quipped that johns lining up to pay for sex is “comical” and that the prostitution operations function just like drive-thru lines.
“At five o’clock at night and after, you try to pull out from a parking spot, and you can have 15 to 20 vehicles driving up and down the street where you cannot back out to go home. They almost have it where they will just point to an open parking spot, you pick up your prostitute, you go and have whatever services done and off you go.”
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Safe Streets Act an ‘utter failure’
In addition to repealing the law, the business owner argued that johns should increasingly face prosecution in order to move the needle on the skyrocketing prostitution issue, and wants to see conviction rates increase in the City of San Diego, which is overseen by the city attorney, not DA Stephan.
“If you would put some pressure on the johns, then you’re taking away the customer base, and that’s your supply and demand. If you don’t have the johns, then there’s nobody paying the prostitutes and they can’t pay the pimps,” the business owner said.
The business owner added that this law has allowed the prostitution business to boom, while young children living in San Diego neighborhoods are forced to walk over used “byproducts” from prostitutes on their way to school, and even see the women wearing skimpy outfits while they’re on the bus.
“Listen to all the DAs across the state,” the business owner said when asked if he has a message for Newsom. “This is an utter failure. It’s not helping, it’s hurting. The human trafficking aspect is hurting the girls that are on the streets. It’s given the pimps much more ability … to gather more unfortunate ladies in order to bring them out on the streets. So I think what they set out to do has accomplished the exact opposite.”
“Why is it that we have to talk in anonymity without our names? If this is the Safer Streets Act, how come everybody that’s complaining about this doesn’t feel safe?”
Source: Fox News