A 16-year-old was rescued by San Jose police during a South Bay prostitution ring. George Kiriyama reports.
She's 16 years old.
And she began her life of prostitution when she was just 11 years old.
San Jose police said on Tuesday that her days of selling her body are over. During a two-day prostitution sting last week along the Monterey Road Corridor, officers from the SJPD Human Trafficking Task Force rescued her.
"She was cooperative," Sgt. Jason Dwyer said. "She spoke to our detectives. Very sad story. In her statement, she basically said she had been doing this since she was about 11 years old."
Police say the girls is an East Bay runaway who was forced to work the streets the past five years.
"It's modern day slavery is what it is," Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. "These girls are treated like property literally and moved around the Bay Area and around California where they are forced to be child prostitutes."
The District Attorney's office has one prosecutor whose full-time focus is on human trafficking cases.
"Where we are now with human trafficking prosecutions and human trafficking awareness is maybe where we were say 30 years ago about domestic violence," Rosen said.
San Jose police targeted the stretch of busy Monterey Road just south of downtown to Umbarger Road because of its known history of prostitution. It's also an area with a high concentration of motels. But just a couple of blocks away is a family friendly shopping center known as the Plant. Jerry Goodman and his wife says you wouldn't know prostitution was happening nearby.
"It's really hard to tell what goes on a lot of times behind a lot of these side streets," Goodman said.
Eight people were cited and arrested during the two day sting, a combination of johns and prostitutes.
The 16-year-old girl was not cited. Instead she was handed over to Child Protective Services. CPS will determine if and when she will return to her family.
"For her not only to be exposed to it at that young age, but continuously doing it for the next five or six years...now here we are we got her off the streets, now it's just a matter of getting her some of the services that we provide," Dwyer said.