Volunteers gather downtown to warn of spikes in human trafficking

SAN DIEGO --  Hundreds of volunteers surrounded the San Diego Convention Center over the weekend, educating crowds about human trafficking in San Diego County.

"If you see it, report it. You just might save a life," said Yusef Miller, co-chair of the San Diego County Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.

According to Miller, whenever large events come to San Diego, like Comic-Con or big sporting events, there is a spike in the number of visits to underground child sex trafficking websites.

"We stay hypervigilant during those times," Miller said. "Groups of girls and boys,  they’re offered to newcomers here for sex once they arrive -- on the dark web and on underground connections for sex."

The annual outreach event brings nearly 200 volunteers together from different anti-trafficking organizations around San Diego County. The volunteers set up a booth and distribute information to passersby.

“One study shows there are between 3,000 and 8,000 victims annually just in San Diego County," Jessica Steward from Operation Underground Railroad said.

The volunteers hoped to raise awareness about the warning signs that a child is being trafficked. "We're doing a lot of work, but we want to make a huge impact on human trafficking," Miller said.

If you suspect human trafficking has occurred, you can report the incident to the National Human Trafficking Hotline by calling 888-373-7888 or text a tip to BeFree (233733). People can also report suspected incidents locally by contacting the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force at 858-495-3611. For more information, visit theuglystruthsd.org.

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