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SF district attorney seeks $1.4 million to create human trafficking unit

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San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon’s budget request of $1.4 million would fund 10 positions. (Jessica Christian/ 2017 S.F. Examiner)

District Attorney George Gascon is seeking nearly $1.4 million to fund a new unit tasked with tackling human trafficking in a city known for its illicit massage parlors and as a magnet for child sex trafficking.

An April report from the Department on the Status of Women identified 529 human trafficking survivors in San Francisco in 2016. But, Gascon said at a Board of Supervisors committee hearing on Thursday that prosecutors filed charges in just six of the 10 cases presented to his office that year.

“Every year we keep hear people talking about human trafficking,” Gascon said. “But then we go and continue to do business the same way, and then we wonder why we continue to be one of the major focal points of human trafficking in the country, and yet we’re not addressing this problem the way we should be.”

Gascon’s budget request would fund 10 positions including a head attorney, three prosecutors and two investigators to pursue convictions against traffickers.

In 2016, a San Francisco judge sentenced Jamar Geeter to 97 years in prison after the District Attorney’s Office successfully tried him on pimping and sex trafficking charges in connection with two teen girls.

“If we’re really serious about dealing with human trafficking, then we have to put our money where our mouth is,” Gascon said. “It is a major problem, and it is a major problem that we are not addressing and I think it’s unconscionable.”

In the April report, the Department on the Status of Women recommended the District Attorney’s Office create a human trafficking unit. Such cases are currently being handled through the General Crimes Unit.

Gascon is also seeking $1.09 million in funding for a seven-member unit dedicated to fighting car break-ins in San Francisco. The unit would focus on tracking serial auto burglars.

Mayor Mark Farrell will decide on the budget requests in his June proposal.

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