Searching for Jessica Estrada/Area teen likely victim of human trafficking

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Normal Searching for Jessica Estrada/Area teen likely victim of human trafficking

Post by raine1953 on Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:35 pm

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- Neatly stored in a closet of her one-bedroom apartment, Maria Mojica keeps school supplies, clothing and crafts ready and waiting for her daughter Jessica Estrada.

They've been there for a year.

On Jan. 13, 2011, the teenager cried after getting a mysterious phone call, pushed past Mojica and hopped a fence into missing child reports and her mother's darkest fears.

Mojica admits she doesn't know for sure, but she suspects Jessica, now 14, is caught up in the sinister world of teen prostitution. A history of dating older gang members, sightings with men near Yakima motels, social media pictures in which she looks pregnant -- all inconclusive clues of her daughter's life.

"It's like I'm missing half of my heart," she said.

Sunnyside police call the girl a runaway and have no concrete evidence otherwise.

"At this point, anything is possible," said Chris Sparks, the Sunnyside police officer leading the search.

But if Mojica's fears are true, Jessica is part of a sad tale that state officials, police, child welfare officials and society at large are just beginning to grasp -- children are bought and traded for sex and can't get out. Making things worse, the welfare and justice system in many ways categorizes them as criminals.

"They're victims, first and foremost," said Suzi Carpino, a sex trafficking case manager for Sunnyside's Promise, a nonprofit youth organization trying to help Mojica and families like hers.

Advocates, such as Carpino, say a new awareness is taking hold, but there's a long way to go.

Congress is now debating whether to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a 2000 law that made human trafficking a federal crime.

Part of the delay has been difficulty quantifying the problem.

The federal government calls human trafficking a $32 billion global industry, tied with arms dealing for second behind the drug trade. It includes forced or coerced labor, as well as anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 children at risk of sexual exploitation in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, but anti-trafficking advocates are known to criticize even those figures as either over- or under-estimated.

No statistics have been compiled for Washington, though a 2008 city of Seattle Human Services report estimated that between 300 to 500 children in King County were involved with prostitution, based on records from juvenile court and social service cases.

New resources for victims have opened, including a long-term residential recovery home in Seattle.

State laws that took effect in 2008 increased penalties for pimps and johns, and this year lawmakers plan to introduce multiple bills to combat trafficking, including minors used on escort websites, according to Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland.

The U.S. Attorney's Western Washington offices have successfully prosecuted at least seven human trafficking cases within the past two years and average between 20 and 30 cases per year.

Rob McKenna, state attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate, has made human trafficking the primary agenda for his term as president of the National Association of Attorneys General. The organization is considering placing an advertisement decrying the problem during this year's Super Bowl.

Last Wednesday, McKenna collected more than 270,000 signatures on a petition calling for even more law changes that would cement the notion that children involved are victims.

Prostitution is a crime and police arrest girls for it -- even if they are younger than 16, the state's age of consent. The fear of prosecution leaves girls, often trapped by drug addiction and threats, unwilling to report their problems to authorities when they are picked up. McKenna knows of instances in high-profile Seattle cases of teenage girls lying on the witness stand to protect their accused pimps because they were afraid or had been psychologically manipulated.

McKenna agreed state laws should better define the problem.

"I come down on the side recognizing these girls as victims," he said.

However, he is reluctant to completely decriminalize prostitution, even for young girls, because it would take away a tool for police to intervene and steer the kids toward help.

In the Yakima Valley, juvenile sex trafficking often is tied to gangs, victim advocates and police say.

In a typical scenario, an older gang member convinces a 14-year-old he loves her, introduces her to drugs and asks for sexual favors, first for himself, then for his gang mates as a way to boost his status, recruit new members and make a profit for the gang by pimping her out.

It's going on, but officers have trouble saying how much.

"We definitely know that it's happening," said Sgt. Brenda George of the Yakima Police Department's special assault unit.

Police routinely investigate child sexual abuse and prostitution complaints, but pinning it to trafficking is a new idea, George said. Many victims end up in juvenile court for drug and violence charges but never say a word about prostitution.

Few victims of gang crime report problems for fear of retaliation, while prostitution carries an extra stigma that makes information even harder to come by.

"Because of that, it makes it even more invisible and even more insidious than it already is," said Leslie Briner, associate director of residential services for Seattle agency YouthCare and a child prostitution consultant.

Mojica fears all this has claimed her daughter.

When she was as young as 11 or 12, Jessica dated heavily tattooed older gang members and snuck out at night with them to parties as far away as Mattawa, Mojica said. The girl told her mother some of them gave her marijuana and that she often threatened to beat up her younger brother Alexis, now 10, if he told on her.

The single mother lost count of how many times her daughter ran away.

Once, the mother received a menacing phone call in which a male voice said something to the effect of, "We have your daughter but you'll never see her again if you call the police."

Scared, Mojica complied that time, but has worked with the police over the years. She tried grounding, yelling and even left Jessica overnight in jail one time. She has since attended counseling and parenting classes.

But she blames herself anyway.

"I feel guilty," she said. "I should really have paid more attention to Jessica."

Seattle is one of the nation's leading cities in the effort to combat human trafficking.

Spurred by a rash of juvenile prostitution arrests in 2007, King County made plans to open a long-term residential recovery home for victims, but tabled the idea when the economy slumped.

Droves of private donors -- writing checks ranging from $5 to $100,000 -- came to the rescue and YouthCare opened The Bridge in 2010. The location of the nine-bed home is kept secret. It offers victims, ages 14 to 17, a place to stay for up to two years, or until they turn 18, and offers help with addictions, counseling and job hunting.

The Bridge also organizes "wraparound" counseling and support services from many service agencies for about 200 children a year.

It's one of only six of its kind in the nation, Briner said. Another similar facility opened in December in Portland.

So far, 24 children have "graduated" from the residence. It's unclear how they are doing now, Briner said.

"There's no model for this," she said.

One of The Bridge's residents is a Sunnyside girl.

The 16-year-old spent six years running away from home and being expelled from school, said her mother, who asked to remain anonymous.

Over the years, the mother found drug paraphernalia in the girl's pockets, gang-colored clothing accessories in her room and photographs of her and other girls as young as 11 naked or nearly naked posing provocatively on cars.

The woman's younger daughter, now 12, is having many of the same problems. The mother and her husband have six children.

The mother tried everything she could think of. She spanked, she grounded, she confiscated cellphones. She slept on a couch pushed up against her daughter's bedroom door to prevent her from sneaking out. She carefully documented every incident on paper that now fills several binders.

Each time her daughter left, she called police to report her as a runaway.

The mother learned about The Bridge from Sunnyside's Promise after her daughter was charged with drug possession in Yakima County Juvenile Court. The girl moved to the facility in September after several weeks at a detox center.

The mother said her daughter is making progress and maturing, but still can't talk about her painful journey.

"It's not embarrassment, it's just hurt," the mother said.

Yes, her daughter rebelled, she added.

But the girl's May 10 diary entry conveys a feeling of entrapment that leads her mother to fear sexual exploitation: "I hate my life so bad. I hate myself and I hate everyone and everything around me and I don't know why. ... I'm done with life. I'm done. I want to die. I want to disappear. I want to run away from this life. I just don't want to do this anymore. Please God help now please."

Nobody would choose that.

"To them, it started as a game because they're just kids," her mother said.

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Normal Re: Searching for Jessica Estrada/Area teen likely victim of human trafficking

Post by raine1953 on Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:40 pm


Maria Mojica tears up as she shows a visitor how she stores the shoes, clothes and school supplies of her daughter, Jessica Estrada, neatly away in a hallway closet. Estrada, 14, ran away and has been missing for a year. Her mother fears she has been roped into a life of teen prostitution.

Jessica Mojica Estrada

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Post by Wrapitup on Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:52 pm

Police seek new leads on missing Sunnyside teenager
BY ROSS COURTNEY
YAKIMA HERALD-REPUBLIC

Those leading the yearlong search for missing 14-year-old Jessica Estrada of Sunnyside have a glimmer of hope.

After seeing her photo on Spanish-language television reports, a woman who worked at a Yakima motel on North First Street told police she may have spotted Jessica twice on Jan. 8 and 9.

Once, the employee said she saw the girl was walking along the street, said Sunnyside police officer Chris Sparks. The other time, she may have been in a white Toyota 4-Runner with a man.

"There are these sightings and we got to hope it's her," Sparks said.

Police from Yakima and Sunnyside have been comparing notes, Sparks said. However, the child may have been a boy well known to the Yakima police who looks similar to Jessica, Sparks cautioned.

The reports weren't the first leads since Jessica ran away Jan. 13, 2011.

In September, a tipster reported seeing Jessica riding a People to People bus in Prosser.

In March, a Sunnyside boy provided Jessica's mother, Maria Mojica, with a phone number, Mojica said. When Mojica called it, she recognized her daughter's voice, but the girl quickly hung up when she realized it was her mother, Mojica said.

Through a search warrant, Sparks obtained phone records, but the number had since been disconnected, he said, giving him no new leads to follow.

About the same time, Sparks and Mojica also found social media postings of Jessica in which she appeared to be pregnant.

Those with information about Jessica are asked to call Sunnyside police at 509-837-2120.

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Normal Re: Searching for Jessica Estrada/Area teen likely victim of human trafficking

Post by Wrapitup on Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:55 pm

When she was as young as 11 or 12, Jessica dated heavily tattooed older gang members and snuck out at night with them to parties as far away as Mattawa, Mojica said. The girl told her mother some of them gave her marijuana and that she often threatened to beat up her younger brother Alexis, now 10, if he told on her.

The single mother lost count of how many times her daughter ran away.

Once, the mother received a menacing phone call in which a male voice said something to the effect of, "We have your daughter but you'll never see her again if you call the police."

Scared, Mojica complied that time, but has worked with the police over the years. She tried grounding, yelling and even left Jessica overnight in jail one time. She has since attended counseling and parenting classes.

But she blames herself anyway.

"I feel guilty," she said. "I should really have paid more attention to Jessica."

Seattle is one of the nation's leading cities in the effort to combat human trafficking.
She Should feel guilty! What mother allows their 11 year old daughter to DATE???? Much less, Date gang members? Would bet this mother was/is on drugs. Color Me Livid!

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Prayers for our little HaLeigh Cummings, wherever she may be!!

Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody’s hand and squeeze it, while there’s time.
-- Dale Dauten--

Thank you RAINE for all you ARE!! I will ALWAYS hold you in my Heart!!

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Post by Wrapitup on Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:49 am

Jessica Estrada
I was sent this heartbreaking article about Jessica Mojica Estrada, who’s been missing for a year. Her mother believes she was forced into prostitution. Jessica was 13 when she disappeared and had been having problems for a long time:

When she was as young as 11 or 12, Jessica dated heavily tattooed older gang members and snuck out at night with them to parties as far away as Mattawa, Mojica said. The girl told her mother some of them gave her marijuana and that she often threatened to beat up her younger brother Alexis, now 10, if he told on her.

The single mother lost count of how many times her daughter ran away.

Once, the mother received a menacing phone call in which a male voice said something to the effect of, “We have your daughter but you’ll never see her again if you call the police.”

Scared, Mojica complied that time, but has worked with the police over the years. She tried grounding, yelling and even left Jessica overnight in jail one time. She has since attended counseling and parenting classes.

Sometimes, even in the best families, something goes terribly wrong with the children. I’m not sure why — and no one else is either.

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Wrong, Charley Ross. I know you are a good guy but to say that No one else knows WHY something goes terribly wrong w/children is an outrageous statement. The above articles pretty much Spell it Out! No Mother allows their 11 year old daughter to cavort around w/known ADULT gang members. This mother either had blinders on, is completely inept and ignorant, on drugs or all 3. I don't give a good GD if I get backlash. This is the Truth!

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Prayers for our little HaLeigh Cummings, wherever she may be!!

Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody’s hand and squeeze it, while there’s time.
-- Dale Dauten--

Thank you RAINE for all you ARE!! I will ALWAYS hold you in my Heart!!

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Normal Re: Searching for Jessica Estrada/Area teen likely victim of human trafficking

Post by raine1953 on Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:47 am

I agree with your words 100% Wrap!

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Post by Wrapitup on Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:35 pm

Police seek new leads on missing Sunnyside teenager

Jan 15 2012

Those leading the yearlong search for missing 14-year-old Jessica Estrada of Sunnyside have a glimmer of hope.

After seeing her photo on Spanish-language television reports, a woman who worked at a Yakima motel on North First Street told police she may have spotted Jessica twice on Jan. 8 and 9.

Once, the employee said she saw the girl was walking along the street, said Sunnyside police officer Chris Sparks. The other time, she may have been in a white Toyota 4-Runner with a man.

"There are these sightings and we got to hope it's her," Sparks said.

Police from Yakima and Sunnyside have been comparing notes, Sparks said. However, the child may have been a boy well known to the Yakima police who looks similar to Jessica, Sparks cautioned.

The reports weren't the first leads since Jessica ran away Jan. 13, 2011.

In September, a tipster reported seeing Jessica riding a People to People bus in Prosser.

In March, a Sunnyside boy provided Jessica's mother, Maria Mojica, with a phone number, Mojica said. When Mojica called it, she recognized her daughter's voice, but the girl quickly hung up when she realized it was her mother, Mojica said.

Through a search warrant, Sparks obtained phone records, but the number had since been disconnected, he said, giving him no new leads to follow.

About the same time, Sparks and Mojica also found social media postings of Jessica in which she appeared to be pregnant.

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What social media site(s)?? Does the media not know? FGS, journalism has reached an all time LOW!!

I do NOT think she is dead. She is off galavanting around with these male gang members and she is probably sleeping with all of them..kind of like a Charles Mansoish type thing or a Patty Heart scenario. She is most likely brainwashed, on drugs and yep..probably pregnant. That mother better take her blinders off and put on her big girl panties cause those thugs just may come after her. I cannot Stand this excuse for a "mother".



_________________
Prayers for our little HaLeigh Cummings, wherever she may be!!

Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody’s hand and squeeze it, while there’s time.
-- Dale Dauten--

Thank you RAINE for all you ARE!! I will ALWAYS hold you in my Heart!!

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