Van Nuys had been a hotspot for human trafficking and prostitution for more than three decades. In 2016, after increased security efforts within the surrounding area, the Valley Bureau Human Trafficking Task Force made more than 500 arrests, issued more than 3,000 citations and rescued 10 human trafficking victims — eight were minors. CSUN alumna and Los Angeles City Councilmember (Sixth District) Nury Martinez ’96 (Political Science, pictured at right) established the task force in 2015 and collaborated with Henrik Minassians, CSUN professor of urban studies and planning, and David Lopez, professor of sociology.
The group researched the connections between crime patterns and environmental conditions in the district, to curb human trafficking. Martinez held a press conference Jan. 26 at the corner of Sepulveda Boulevard and Valerio Street to highlight the recent successes of the trafficking task force, and to share future plans to fight human trafficking in the area. “The reason we’ve developed this team is primarily because of the lives we are saving, but also because of the community we are restoring,” Martinez said. “My job as a council member is to protect all children in all of our neighborhoods.”