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Combating human trafficking in the Central Valley

Fresno Police say human trafficking is more dangerous than ever.
Over the last four years police have investigated hundreds of human trafficking cases in the Central Valley. They took a tour with faith leaders to talk about the problem.

"I just felt the world and everyone in it was against me," said survivor, Christine Riley.

Christine Riley was a victim of human trafficking in and out of jails more than 20 times.  It's been a long journey which started as a little girl.

"It started at 11, so I was 11, 12, 13, 14...a child myself," said Riley.

Human trafficking, either labor or sex trade controls another through force, fear or coercion for profit and it doesn't discriminate based on age or gender.

Fresno PD Vice detectives launched 700 investigations into possible human trafficking over the last four years. One-hundred victims were identified in the Fresno area.

"Majority of those being from the sex trade, prostitution...either on the street, on the internet, or even in massage parlors," said Fresno PD Vice detective, Sergeant Curtis Chastain

They say some sex trafficking victims come from other countries, they can be found in established local neighborhoods and even in our schools.

"Probably more alarming is the home-grown victim, victims from a high school and junior high school," said Sergeant Chastain.

Vice, along with "Made for Them," a non-profit group helping combat human trafficking, lead a tour of faith leaders from across the Central Valley to give them a closer look.

"Looking at how we as a church can come alongside the people that are in those situations and say, what is our role in that," said Jon Lorente, Pastor at The Well Community Church.

Riley hopes her story will shed light on a growing problem.

"Feel, have a heart for that person, because just 'cause it's not you today doesn't mean it won't be you tomorrow," said Riley.

"MadeForThem" is now working to open a safe house for victims in the Central Valley and local churches are helping raise awareness.
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