The link between prostitution and organized crime makes it even more important for police to keep an open line of communication with potential trafficking victims. Los Angeles police use arrests as a chance to isolate the girls from their pimps and attempt to get them to cooperate in investigations, according to Michelle Guymon. But because the efforts aren't coordinated across departments, girls often reunite with pimps as soon as they're released.
A major part of the problem is that underage prostitutes are treated like criminals when they should be considered victims, according to county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.
"The system ought to be working against those who force these young people into prostitution," he said at a recent county meeting. "The victims, they need to have healthcare. They are walking with STD's and other types of illnesses and diseases."