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Downey Parents Alerted Via Phone About ‘Human Trafficking’ Flyers

Human TrafficingBy Tammye McDuff

Downey Unified School District and parents of students received an alarming and unusual notification last week to warn the community about flyers that were being distributed in the area about human trafficking.

A voicemail alert was sent to each family in the DUSD from Dr. Roberts Jagielski, Director of Student Services: “This is the Downey Unified School District calling with an important community message. We want to make you aware of an influx of teen job posters in South Downey that are often fronts for human trafficking. These flyers are typically posted to telephone poles near schools.  These advertise jobs that pay teenagers from $150 to $450 a week with free transportation.”  Jagielski voice mail continues “Many of the jobs are not legitimate and could place children in dangerous and harmful situations. The city of Downey has already removed hundreds of these posters in the past few weeks. I encourage you to review safety procedures with your children. Please also help alert other parents and children to this situation.”

This voicemail hit Facebook pages with vengeance. Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper contacted DUSD regarding the flyers and Board member Martha Sodetani stressed, “These jobs are typically selling door to door in affluent areas. You may be aware that human trafficking is the number one source of gang profit. Drugs are now second and arms are third. Supervisor Don Knabe and the other Count Supervisors have warned of human trafficking and its threat. At a gang seminar I learned so much. Teenagers should NEVER get in a vehicle to be transported to a work area.”

Sodetani stated that Gangs out Of Downey FB page posted a link to the article, which was first reported by NBC News last month.

Knabe joined a panel discussion on child sex trafficking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. this past April.  Knabe’s office was contacted regarding this issue and HMG was directed to his blog statement:

“I received a deeply troubling briefing regarding minor girls who are being bought and sold as prostitutes across Los Angeles County.  Some of these girls are as young as 11 and 12. While we often think of child sex trafficking as a problem in other countries, it’s happening right here in our backyard …  I am asking the Probation Department to track and gather more statistics so that we get a real sense of what is happening out there.  Then we can aggressively address prevention tactics, figure out ways to combat the problem and develop aftercare programs … I would also like to look at the possibility of establishing a special unit in the Probation Department, dedicated to sexually exploited minors. We must do everything we can to get these girls off the streets and on a path to a better life ahead.”

At the Downey City Council Meeting, Tuesday, July 22nd, Mayor Vasquez assured residents there were currently no known victims of human trafficking because of the flyers. Vasquez stated “It is unfortunate in the 21st Century that in a country as powerful as the United States human trafficking still goes on. Recently I had an opportunity to speak with Univision about this issue. The reason I bring this up is to remind parents to please, please use caution and common sense, don’t allow your children to put themselves in danger because of these flyers.”

The Downey Police department has removed more than 200 flyers in the last few weeks for violating city code.

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