HT-RADAR Fall Meeting & Updates

An analyst with the San Diego Sheriff's Department and a member of the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force (HTTF) presented at HT-RADAR’s third quarterly meeting on October 28.  The meeting drew more than 40 researchers, data analysts, and other stakeholders such as survivors, victim services, law enforcement, prosecution, and educators.  The speaker offered insider information about the HTTF, trends in human trafficking and CSEC in San Diego, how human trafficking researchers can work best with law enforcement analysts, and the HTTF’s top research needs.  HT-RADAR offers unique opportunities to learn and collaborate across sectors to help meet research needs in the San Diego / Tijuana (SD/TJ) region.  Other agenda topics included information about HT-RADAR’s new website, updates about the HT-RADAR 2017 Human Trafficking Research Conference, and roundtable introductions and discussion.

HT-RADAR’s next meeting: Friday, February 24, 2017 from 11:30am-1:30pm


Luz Aramburo and Zach Lickteig have joined Point Loma Nazarene University’s Center for Justice and Reconciliation (PLNU/CJR) as HT-RADAR's 2016-2017 interns.  Luz is a Junior Business Administration major at PLNU.  Zach is a Freshman International Development and Spanish double major at PLNU.  They will be assisting Research Associate, Bernadette Winter-Villaluz, in HT-RADAR's growing work.  This includes contributing stories to HT-RADAR's quarterly newsletters, maintaining the resources featured on HT-RADAR's new website, and expanding the network to include more Tijuana stakeholders.

Research Highlights

Trafficking of Women and Children in Mexico: An Assessment of Anti-Trafficking Laws

Arun Kumar Acharya, PhD; Armando Moctezuma Suarez, MA; Francisco de Jesus Gomez Ontiveros

Mexico is a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking, where the majority of the victims fall into sexual exploitation and some of them are exploited in forced labor in agriculture, domestic service, food processing factories, construction, the informal economy, begging and vending. Mexico signed the international human trafficking treaty in 2005, the first anti-trafficking law was formulated in 2007, and again in 2012 the federal government presented a new anti-trafficking law and was reformed in 2014. This illustrates that during the last eight years there has been significant progress achieved in legislation on anti-trafficking issues, but the implementation of the law has not been observed due to dysfunctional law enforcement. Thus, in the present paper we have utilized information available at national and international level to analyze the progress achieved by the Mexican Government in tackling the human trafficking problem. Also, in this study we have examined the strengths, complementary issues as well as biases of the 2007, 2012 and 2014 anti-trafficking laws to offer recommendations to assist policies and actions.

Arun Kumar Acharya, PhD, is a Professor and Researcher at la Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, Mexico for the Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales (Institute of Social Investigations), where he is currently focusing on the perspectives and implications of internal and international migration with regard to human trafficking.  For the last five years, he has been the Coordinator for the UANL Doctorate Program and Human Resources Training.  Dr. Acharya has published four books and several journal articles on human trafficking and migration.  He is part of the editorial advisory board of the French Journal Revista de Cercetare si Interventie Sociala and the Mexican Journal Trayectorias: Revista de Ciencias Sociales.

U.S. State Laws Addressing Human Trafficking:  Education of and Mandatory Reporting by Health Care Providers and Other Professionals

Holly G. Atkinson, MD; Kevin J. Curnin, JD; Nicole C. Hanson, JD

Human trafficking is a global problem and constitutes a grave human rights violation, affecting more than 20 million individuals worldwide. This brutal crime often results in both short- and long-term physical and psychological harm to its victims. We provide a systematic review of U.S. laws that address education about human trafficking and/or mandatory reporting requirements that affect healthcare providers and other professionals across the United States. Thirteen U.S. states now have laws that address education about human trafficking, while seven specifically require mandatory reporting of minors who are victims of trafficking. The findings are instructive to not only practicing physicians and other professionals, who are now mandated reporters of trafficking victims in some states, but also to regulatory and legislative bodies contemplating enacting such laws in an effort to address trafficking.  

Note from the author:  Since publication of this paper, New York State has passed legislation that requires every general hospital, public health center, diagnostic center, treatment center or outpatient department to establish written policies and procedures for the identification, assessment, and appropriate treatment or referral of persons suspected of being human trafficking victims as well as training for physicians, nurses and other clinical care personnel in service units in those facilities regarding those policies and procedures.
Atkinson, H., Curnin, K., & Hanson, N. (2016). U.S. state laws addressing human trafficking: Education of and mandatory reporting by health care providers and other professionals. Journal of Human Trafficking, 2(2), 111-138.

Holly G. Atkinson, MD, FACP, FAMWA, is Assistant Professor of Medical Education at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Distinguished Medical Lecturer at the new CUNY School of Medicine in New York City. Dr. Atkinson served on the board of directors of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) for more than 16 years, including four years as President.  She now serves as an expert medical advisor to the organization and is a member of PHR’s asylum network.  She is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Women’s Association, where she co-chairs AMWA’s Physicians Against Human Trafficking (PATH) initiative. Additionally, Dr. Atkinson is a member of the AOA Honor Medical Society, the American Public Health Association, and of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Health Care and Human Trafficking:  We are Seeing the Unseen

Makini Chisolm-Straker, MD, MPH; Susie Baldwin, MD, MPH; Bertille Gaïgbe-Togbe, MD; Nneka Ndukwe, MD; Pauline N. Johnson; Lynne D. Richardson, MD

Objectives. This study aimed to build the evidence base around human trafficking (HT) and health in the U.S. by employing a quantitative approach to exploring the notion that health care providers encounter this population. Furthermore, this study sought to describe the health care settings most frequented by victims of human trafficking. Methods. This was an anonymous, retrospective study of survivors of U.S.-based human trafficking. Results. One hundred and seventy-three participants who endured U.S.-based human trafficking were surveyed. The majority (68%, n=117) of participants were seen by a health care provider while being trafficked. Respondents most frequently reported visiting emergency/urgent care practitioners (56%), followed by primary care providers, dentists, and obstetricians/gynecologists (OB/GYNs). Conclusions. While health care providers are serving this patient population, they do not consistently identify them as victims of human trafficking.

Chisolm-Straker, M., Baldwin, S., Gaïgbé-Togbé, B., Ndukwe, N., Johnson, P., et al. (2016). Health care and human trafficking: We are seeing the unseen. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 27(3), 1220-1233.

Makini Chisolm-Straker, MD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and emergency medicine physician at Mount Sinai Brooklyn.  Dr. Chisolm-Straker serves on the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Technical Working Group for the SOAR initiative, sits on the Advisory Board of ECPAT-USA, and is a co-founder and the Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of Directors for HEAL.  She has worked clinically, administratively and as a consultant all over the world, and volunteers at the Libertas Center for Human Rights in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York, providing medical affidavits for those seeking asylum in the United States.

A Review of U.S. Health Care Institution Protocols for the Identification and Treatment of Victims of Human Trafficking

Hanni Stoklosa, MD; Mary Beth Dawson, MPH; Francisca Williams-Oni, MPH; Emily Rothman, ScD
The purpose of this study was to characterize and assess human-trafficking (HT) identification, treatment, and referral protocols of U.S. health care service provider institutions. A total of 30 protocols from 19 states and 2 national organizations were analyzed. Across the protocols, the most commonly listed indicator of HT victimization was patient history of physical- or sexual-abuse victimization, which was included in 73% of the protocols. In addition, the majority (70%) of the protocols listed ≥ 1 medical-symptom indicator of HT victimization (e.g., bruises, scars, frequent injuries), ≥ 1 indicator based on a patient’s apparent dependence on another person (e.g., patient not in control of personal identification), and ≥ 1 indicator related to how the patient communicates (e.g., inconsistencies in the patient’s story about his or her medical condition). A smaller proportion of protocols included indicators of HT that pertained to housing (60%), the patient’s appearance (47%), the patient’s mental health (63%), sexual history (63%), or technology-related indicators such as the patient possessing explicit digital photos of himself or herself with another person (20%). We conclude that additional research is needed to establish ideal protocol content but propose that in the interim protocol developers consider using practice-informed and evidence-based information that pertain to six areas of victim identification and assistance.
Hanni Stoklosa, MPH, MD, is an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital with appointments at Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.  She is the Executive Director of the Board of Directors for HEAL.  She has also advised the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor, and Institute of Medicine on issues of human trafficking and testified as an expert witness multiple times before the US Congress.  Dr. Stoklosa is a well-recognized investigator, advocate, and speaker focusing on the health of trafficking survivors in the US and internationally.  Moreover, she has conducted research on trafficking and vulnerable populations in a diversity of settings including Australia, China, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Liberia, Nepal, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, South Sudan, Taiwan, and Thailand.

News Highlights

North Park Gang Member Sentenced for Leadership Role in Racketeering Conspiracy

U.S. District Court Judge John Houston sentenced Aaron Dwayne Pittman, 34, one of the leaders of a North Park gang, to 11 years in prison for 'pimping' women and children in San Diego, Phoenix, Orlando, Honolulu and other cities.  He arranged flights and posted online ads for the services of prostitutes.  Pittman had been involved in similar lines of work since the late 1990s.  Under a plea agreement, he admitted to assaulting a person and robbing one of his prostitutes. (From NBC San Diego; view full article here by Samantha Tatro.)

CEO Of Arrested, Charged with Pimping

The CEO, Carl Ferrer, and two major stock holders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, of were arrested last month. is a website that is commonly known for hosting advertisements for prostitution that include victims of sex trafficking.  This is a victory in the fight against sex trafficking because it is one of the largest websites that promotes sex trafficking.  The California Department of Justice has spent the last three years investigating in order to collect evidence for these three arrests. (From NPR; view full article here by Camila Domonoske.) 

SDHTTF is Awarded the 2016 Multi-Agency Award

The San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force (HTTF) was granted the 2016 IACP Human and Civil Rights Multi-Agency Award.  This is an award that is given to an outstanding coalition of law enforcement agencies that work together to protect human and civil rights.  The group was honored at the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Conference in San Diego, which was held from October 15-18, 2016.  More information will be available on the IACP website.

FBI's Operation X Rescues 3 Minors from Human Trafficking in San Diego

The largest international effort to find trafficked minors was a success with "55 FBI field offices and 74 child-exploitation task forces representing more than 400 law enforcement organizations participating."  San Diego's law enforcement participated in the four-day Operation Cross Country X and in their efforts found three minor victims of human trafficking, 20 adult prostitutes, and three pimps.  Nation-wide, 82 minors were found and 239 traffickers were arrested.  Other countries to participate in the operation were Canada, Cambodia, the Philippines and Thailand.  Internationally, 41 children were found. (From CBS News 8; view full article here.)

Arrests in United States and Mexico on Sex Trafficking and Related Charges

Seven members of an international gang were charged with human trafficking.  Two of the members were arrested in the U.S., four in Mexico, and one remains a fugitive.  Law enforcement identified 14 victims - many of them minors -  who were allegedly deceived, physically and sexually abused, threatened, and coerced into prostitution.  The victims were recruited in Mexico and eventually trafficked into the U.S. (From the US Dept of Justice; view full article here.)

Opportunities & Resources

2 Student Worker Positions with the SD County Child Welfare Services


Journal of Trafficking & Human Exploitation

Journal of Ethnic & Migration Studies

Journal of Police & Criminal Psychology

Social Psychology Quarterly

International Journal of Sociology & Anthropology

Justice Quarterly

Studies in Global Slavery

Law & Contemporary Problems

For more information regarding research journals,
please visit:

Funding Opportunities

For more information regarding funding opportunities,
please visit:


For more information regarding research conferences,
please visit:


  • Learn more about HT-RADAR & the Advisory Council
  • Sign-up to receive our quarterly newsletter and invitations to our quarterly meetings
  • Utilize available resources, including:  information about relevant research conferences, scholarly journals, funding opportunities, and research groups and articles
  • Connect with us to advertise and request support for a research need
Copyright © 2016 Center for Justice & Reconciliation at Point Loma Nazarene University.
All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
3900 Lomaland Drive, San Diego, CA 92106

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list