“Castro let hundreds of women slip through his radar. He’s the first to admit that he was completely ignorant about human trafficking.” Castro told the story of a sixteen-year-old girl who was nearly beaten to death by Tomلs Salazar-Juarez, one of the brothers running the prostitution ring in Vista. “She was brutally beaten for attempting to escape a life of forced prostitution,”
The sixteen-year-old told the deputies that Salazar forced her into a room and duct-taped her hands and feet. Salazar then grabbed a wire clothes hanger from a closet, wrapped it tightly around his hand and forced the other young girls to watch him beat her for two hours. “She was bruised so bad that it looked like she had been cut with a filet knife. He then told the rest of the girls ‘this is what will happen to anyone else that tries to escape,’” said Castro.
Neighbors called the police thinking that it was a domestic violence situation. Unfortunately, Salazar got away before the deputies arrived at the crime scene.
The deputies took a report and pictures of the sixteen-year-old girl. This report was a major milestone for the Sheriff’s Office because it was the first time that any of the so-called prostitutes alleged abuse from their pimps. “This girl’s testimony later inspired other young women to come forward,” said Castro.
However, Castro still didn’t understand what he was up against. He still believed that he was helping to rid the city of prostitution. He remembers arriving at the station one morning. A deputy responded to what he believed was a domestic violence call the night before. He asked him to take a look at his report.” Castro read that it involved a fifteen-year-old Hispanic girl that was being housed at the Polinsky Children’s Center. He then rushed to Polinsky.
The young girl told me everything that happened to her.
She was a victim of something that Castro knew was ugly—he just didn’t know what to call it. This fifteen-year-old girl, whose baby was kidnapped prior to crossing the border, and used as security to force her to sell her body to up to thirty men per day for nearly six months, helped him realize that the same tragedy that was forced upon her, was being forced upon the rest of the women too.
“This young girl, Reina, helped Castro connect the dots”. “She helped him put all of the missing pieces together. After that interview, he knew that we were looking at some form of sex slavery.”
Reina is just one out of the tens of thousands of girls around the world that are trafficked. Although difficult to fathom, Reina is actually one of the fortunate ones since she was able to escape the terror of her captors. After nearly six months of continual rapes and beatings, she gathered the courage to run for her life.
Realizing that she may never see her baby again, she fled from her captors the minute she saw a window of opportunity. She stood half-naked and crying at the doorsteps of nearby neighbors. The neighbors called the police and the deputies transported her to Polinsky where Castro reached out to her.
One million teens in the U.S. are involved in prostitution each year.
Everyday over 1.4 million teens are homeless or runaways and vulnerable to sexual exploitation
Each year 5,000 teens will lose their lives on the streets due to assault, rape, suicide and illness
Up to 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk of falling prey to the sex trade each year
A child is propositioned for sex within the first 72 hours that she/he is on the streets
At any given time there are up to 2000 homeless and runaway children in San Diego County
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