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New laws move to grab human trafficking assets

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a pair of bills into law today to make it harder for human traffickers to hide their assets.

AB 2466, by Assmemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-San Fernando Valley, ensures that criminal defendants involved in human trafficking can’t hide or dispose of assets that would otherwise be provided as restitution to victims. Existing California law entitles victims are entitled to mandatory restitution, but this new law will let courts order the preservation of the assets and property until there’s a conviction.

“Now, the perpetrators of this despicable crime cannot game the system and keep their money when caught and convicted,” Blumenfield said in a news release. “Justice will come for victims.”

SB 1133, by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, expands the list of assets that a human trafficker must forfeit and provides a formula for using those resources to help victims of human trafficking.

“Today we are one step closer to dismantling the economic infrastructure that convicted child sex traffickers rely on to continue to lure young people into the sex trade,” Leno said in a news release. “In addition to taking away the lucrative profits from these horrendous crimes, we are providing much-needed financial support for increased investigations and victim services.”

The Assembly and state Senate passed both bills without any dissenting votes; both laws will take effect on Jan. 1.

“With these new laws, California prosecutors and law enforcement officials will be able to seize assets of human traffickers, cripple their operations and aid victims,” California Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a news release. “Human trafficking is big business in California. It is a high-profit criminal industry that is expanding rapidly across the globe, including here in California.”

Harris and Mexico Attorney General Marisela Morales Ibáñez signed an accord Friday to expand prosecutions and secure convictions of criminals who engage in the trafficking of human beings. The pact will increase coordination of law enforcement resources targeting transnational gangs engaged in such crimes, and calls for closer integration on human trafficking as well as sharing best practices to recognize human trafficking and provide support and services to victims.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Well, shoot, there goes my retirement fund!