A team project from the San Francisco Public Press, New America Media and El Tecolote

Ten years after a high-profile sex slavery case in Berkeley shocked California into passing its first anti-trafficking laws and creating a constellation of redundant task forces, some of the biggest promises by politicians remain unfulfilled. Human trafficking laws are inconsistently applied, and rarely used by prosecutors. Uncoordinated human trafficking investigations by prostitution-focused urban vice squads have led federal officials to demand collaboration with federal law enforcement as terms of receiving money.

Now pressure is growing on law enforcement and other agencies to crack down on a crime whose extent is devilishly hard to measure. A California group is gathering signatures for a ballot initiative to increase criminal penalties for labor and sexual exploitation. But even these laws are only a piece of the solution.  

The San Francisco Public Press has been working with freelance writers for months to take a deep dive into the problems facing officials and nonprofit groups in helping victims and catching traffickers. But we need to double our seed funding to help compensate seven reporters, researchers and graphic artists, to procure legal documents and to produce video interviews with experts and crime victims.

We will publish our findings in the Spring 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press, and online at The San Francisco Public Press is collaborating with the New America Media, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the bilingual newspaper El Tecolote. Articles will be distributed to dozens of other ethnic newspapers across the state to raise awareness of resources and issues in affected communities.   Themes in our coverage will include:

  • The effectiveness of anti-trafficking laws
  • Flawed visas programs that deter victims from coming forward
  • An in-depth look at reforms proposed by activists in California
  • Exclusive new details on a 10-year-old trafficking case
  • How labor standards enforcement can unearth trafficking cases
  • Complexity of the international supply chain of slavery


The San Francisco Public Press produces a daily news website and quarterly print newspaper sold at more than 50 locations throughout the Bay Area. We have received support from more than 600 individuals and half a dozen foundations, including the San Francisco Foundation, the California Endowment, the Center for Public Integrity and KQED Public Broadcasting. The Public Press is noncommercial and does not engage in advocacy reporting. We are actively collaborating with New America Media, a 40-year-old journalism organization in San Francisco that focuses on immigration and human rights issues and distributes reporting to a network of dozens of ethnic publications. Journalists from the Center for Investigative Reporting and El Tecolote are also contributing stories.

The reporters are: Jason Winshell, Ambika Kandasamy, Monica Jensen, Dhyana Levey, Leigh Cuen, Hank Drew and Hyemi Choi (San Francisco Public Press); Viji Sundaram, Elena Shore and Andrew Lam (New America Media); Bernice Yeung (Center for Investigative Reporting); and Alejandra Cuellar (El Tecolote). Graphics by Tom Guffey, (Public Press).


We will publish our findings in the Spring 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press, and online at The 7,000-word package will be the cover story of the Spring 2012 edition of the newspaper, and will include at least eight articles, in addition to infographics and photographs. Online extras will include video and links to resources for victims. One or more stories will be published by New America Media, the Center for Investigative Reporting, El Tecolote and other ethnic newspapers in California. In addition, we are working with KQED Public Radio to do radio interviews and the Investigative News Network to get articles distributed worldwide through Reuters.

100% funded
  • almost 3 years overdue
  • 1,218.00 credits raised


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Individual Donors

  • 1,218.00 credits donated to the story
  • (13 supporters)

Organization Support

  • 1,025.00 credits donated to the story
  • (2 supporters)
  • San Francisco Public Press
  • The Creosote Journal

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