Humans are NOT for sale… yet millions worldwide are being trafficked and exploited. In fact, human trafficking is currently the fastest growing criminal operation and is projected to rise as the number one criminal business by 2024, according to San Bernardino County’s Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation (C.A.S.E.). As a $150 billion dollar global industry, human trafficking is not going anywhere and it continues to spread in our very own backyard. With California being a popular border state with the world’s fifth-largest economy, human traffickers have set their eyes on the golden state to make their green.
Thankfully, there are many women and men who are actively fighting against the evils of trafficking in hopes to rescue those who have found themselves in the life of sex trafficking. “It can happen to anyone,” said Angel Magallanes, the C.A.S.E. coordinator. “Through my experience with CFS [the Department of Children and Family Services], statistically, it is not the stranger that your children are the most vulnerable with. It is the person who has the most access to your children.”
After serving as a social worker with CFS for four years, Angel was given a new opportunity. In 2018, Angel transitioned to her current role as a social service practitioner stationed at the county’s Children’s Network where she also serves as the C.A.S.E. coordinator. “I never expected to end up in this line of work,” said Angel. “My purpose in life has always been to work with at-risk youth.” With a double bachelor’s in human services and sociology, a minor in social work, and a master’s degree, Angel dedicates her extensive knowledge to make the world a safer place for children.
The San Bernardino County Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation, or C.A.S.E., was founded in 2009. It is comprised of public and private entities that aim “to educate, prevent, intervene and treat victims of sexual exploitation.”
They say “ignorance is bliss,” but in Angel’s case, ignorance, or lack of awareness on the subject of sexual exploitation, is how the traffickers win. “We really want individuals to come away from C.A.S.E. trainings a little bit more knowledgeable to crush some of those stereotypes and look at human trafficking for what it is: child abuse,” said Angel.
As the C.A.S.E. coordinator, it is Angel’s job to educate the public on what trafficking is, what warning signs to watch out for in your home, and how to prevent it. Traditionally, this is accomplished through community awareness, speaking to schools, health fairs, seminars, C.A.S.E.’s annual walk to raise awareness, etc. In light of COVID-19, however, Angel is having to readjust and reimagine how she can continue to educate the public in effective new ways. While this year’s annual C.A.S.E. walk was canceled due to the pandemic, this did not hinder Angel’s energy to educate.
C.A.S.E. is leading several Zoom webinars during the month of January (National Human Trafficking Prevention Month) in partnership with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department where members of the community are able to learn about and discuss the topic of human trafficking. “Human trafficking is not going anywhere,” said Angel when discussing the rise of the industry. “It’s something that people look at in a very negative light, but I hope that I can really illuminate the issue in a way that makes sense to people.”
C.A.S.E. currently partners with ten agencies, service providers, community organizations, and the faith-based community