(NewsNation) — Undercover videos shot over one night in San Diego that show rows of women offering to sell sex — and car after car lined up to buy — illustrate the breadth of the human trafficking market in Southern California.
San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan rode along with police to see it for herself.
“What I saw was that look in the eyes of human being like they are products,” said Stephan. “Products with hardly any clothing on. Lines of cars like this is some kind of buying a hamburger at some kind of 24/7 place.”
Since last month, local law enforcement has been cracking down on trafficking rings, netting 48 arrests and rescuing 16 victims.
“The youngest victim rescued during this operation was 13 years old,” said San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit. “She was seen walking the street looking for someone to buy sex from her.”
But organized crime is hardly limited to the sex trade in Southern California.
The Brown Field Border Patrol Station in the San Diego sector alone stopped over 130 smuggling vehicles and arrested over 150 suspected human smugglers in January. Some were carrying firearms and body armor.
The illegal drug trade is also skyrocketing in the region.
U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman says 60% of fentanyl seizures last fiscal year occurred at their border locations.
“The Southern District of California which is home to 6 different border crossings has become the epicenter for fentanyl trafficking in the United States,” Grossman said.
Just weeks ago, more than 4 million dollars worth of fentanyl were seized in the San Diego sector in one day — enough to kill over 30 million people.
Since 2001, more than 7,000 American lives have been lost to fighting the war on terror. By comparison, an average of nearly 6,000 are lost to fentanyl overdoses a month — with just shy of 70,000 killed in the last 12 months.
“Our kids are dying at record levels, families are being destroyed, communities are being inundated with deadly fentanyl and other drugs,” said retired national security and public safety executive Derek Maltz.