A spike in legal action on Pomona’s prostitution circuit on Holt Avenue, termed “The Track” and more recently “The Blade” — the area from the 71 FWY to Mills Ave – led to a human-trafficking rescue on January 14th.
Sgt. Gregg Haggerty, of the Major Crimes Task Force called the series of events “not usual,” where a 21-year-old was abducted by an unknown man in her Oklahoma City home, transported to Georgia, then sold to a man in California, which culminated with her “rescue in the hotter section of the Track as she ran to a passing police vehicle.”
A female Task Force undercover officer declared that Mark Payton and his accomplice Tasha McElrafth “used the victim’s coerced ID and financial information to finance where they were going from place to place. Their goal is to make a lot of money, and most of it goes to the pimp. This is not something to joke about – calling each other ‘Ho’. These girls are presented with a broken dream. The reality is that it’s hard, brutal work — much like drug addiction with additional abuse – where they’re attacked, brutalized, and raped on a regular basis, which the average girl wouldn’t want to do 20 to 30 times a day.”
The felon Payton scored seven charges and $1,000,000 bail, and his accomplice’s 5 charges landed her a $700,000 bail. Per Haggerty: “Victims don’t usually run up to us. When they get arrested and talk about their pimp, we get them help. Human Trafficking’s becoming a national problem, and has raised eyebrows federally and in the state. L.A. County Sheriff is coming up with a task force. The L.A. County Trafficking Team will team up. It’s a big deal.”
President Obama’s recent 2015 presidential proclamation declaring January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month shines a spotlight on this global problem, as he announced, “As we work to end Human Trafficking here in the United States, we will continue to lead the effort to root it out around the world.”