Los Angeles County officials are teaming up to crack down on human trafficking involving minors by sweeping the streets undercover and working with social services counselors to help get the victims the help they need.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, along with law enforcement and social services officials, gathered Wednesday to talk about saving children from sex trafficking.
"I don't think anyone in this room can be convinced that a 10, 12, 14-year-old girl makes a conscious decision to become a prostitute," Knabe said.
Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said that gang members are behind the illicit trade and make anywhere from $600,000 to $800,000 a year on it.
"The product is the young girl whose life is being ruined," McDonnell said.
LA County Sheriff's deputies are patrolling undercover looking for underage prostitutes forced into the trade.
The average age of the victims is 12 years old and one of the main purposes of the new protocols is to bring in social workers to help.
The DCFS said that many of these victims come through the foster care system and that staff and hotline operators need to be educated on how to handle these children.
"They're not child prostitutes. They're victims," Knobe said.