Tag Archive for: sex trafficking

Campaign Raises Awareness of Boys Who are Exploited

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan and Health and Human Services Director Nick Macchione today announced an outreach campaign running in January aimed at raising awareness about boys who become victims of human trafficking. In the past, the focus has often been on girls who were being trafficked, but in recent years law enforcement has been working to educate the public that boys are also often victims. The month-long campaign’s goal is to broaden the public perception of who is vulnerable to being sexually trafficked. Officials hope that bringing attention to this issue will improve screening, identification, and services for boys who are victims of sex trafficking. The campaign will appear on billboards, bus transit posters, on social media and in public service announcements on radio. January is Human Trafficking Awareness month.

“We must recognize the reality that the trafficking of boys is more common than the public may realize,” said DA Stephan. “We have a responsibility to protect all children who are being trafficked. This outreach is an extension of our work to increase awareness, improve identification and reporting, and develop specialty services for survivors who are boys.”

While state and local data doesn’t provide good statistics about the trafficking of boys, national studies demonstrate the seriousness of the problem. A study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice estimated that as many as 50% of the commercially sexually exploited children in the United States are boys. In 2013, a study found that the commercial sexual exploitation of boys is vastly under reported.

“Tragically, as many as 50% of sexually trafficked children are boys and LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to experience sexual violence,” said Nick Macchione, Director of the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency. “It’s extremely important that we understand the gravity of the issue and take immediate action by raising awareness through this campaign with the support of our district attorney. At the Health and Human Services Agency, we will promote these valuable and lifesaving resources countywide with all of our community partners.  Together, we will help protect our vulnerable children and youth from sexual exploitation.”

The campaign is being organized by the District Attorney’s Office, Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), and Child Welfare Services. The artwork for the campaign was produced by anti-trafficking activist Genice Jacobs with artist Myriam Obin. A web page, www.ProtectSanDiegoKids.org provides information and resources.

Visit www.ProtectSanDiegoKids.org for more information. For help for you or someone you love, call 800-344-6000 to reach caring, trained staff who can help.

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Sex Traffickers Sentenced

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that 20-year-old Darius Stone was sentenced to 25 years in prison in connection with a human trafficking criminal case involving four juvenile female victims. In addition, an accomplice, 42-year-old Danyelle Willis was also sentenced to 21 years and 8 months on April 7.

On February 23, Stone pleaded guilty to 19 felony counts related to human trafficking of four young girls between the ages of 13 and 15. The charges include sex crimes, kidnapping, robbery, making criminal threats and furnishing methamphetamine to minors. Willis pleaded guilty to seven felony charges on February 8, related to trafficking two of the minor girls, ages 14 and 15. The charges included human trafficking, furnishing methamphetamine, and other sex crimes. Willis also admitted a prior felony conviction for murder from Minnesota in October 2000.

“Sex trafficking is a lucrative industry that generates over $810 million a year for criminals in San Diego County,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “Traffickers treat children like property that are sold like a piece of pizza to criminal buyers. As they did in this case, traffickers use deception, violence and drugs to control their victims. We want victims of sex trafficking to know they can break free from this horrific cycle and regain their freedom and dignity and that our team is here to support victims and hold traffickers accountable.”

Defendant Darius Stone would contact underage girls on social media, including Snapchat and Instagram. His messages would often be flirtatious initially, but the conversations would occasionally lead to sexual relationships with the girls. Stone would then encourage the girls to engage in acts of prostitution by promising a lavish and exciting lifestyle. As is common in human trafficking cases, Stone used fear and manipulation to further trap the girls in his human trafficking scheme. This included verbal threats and furnishing methamphetamine to the girls.

The co-defendant, Danyelle Willis, assisted Stone with his operation, at times providing transportation for the minors. He also encouraged some of the minors to engage in prostitution and he was convicted of having sexual contact with one of them.

In December 2020, a concerned citizen from Oceanside called 911 to report a young woman begging for help at her front door. The concerned citizen reported that she observed a young man chase after the juvenile, physically assault her, and take her phone. The Oceanside Police Department quickly responded and eventually arrested the man who attacked the young girl, later identified as Stone.

It quickly became clear that the young girl was a victim of human trafficking and a year-long investigation ensued. Detective Kekai Thompson with the Oceanside Police Department and Detective Katherine Dabbaghian with the San Diego County Human Trafficking Task Force worked diligently to uncover additional victims and additional evidence, and worked closely with Deputy District Attorney Matthew Hardy along with the prosecution team to bring justice and protect the young victims.

You can report suspected human trafficking by calling 911, by contacting the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at (888) 3737-888 or text BeFree (233733). San Diego’s local HOTLINE is: (619) 666-2757.