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The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted. When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.
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When police stopped the man's car behind the Flamingo Hotel on Sept. Investigators believe he hoped to lure the teenager into the trade, as well. The suspect, Mike Lavella Turner, 19, admitted the older sister -- the one who called him "boyfriend" -- was his "ho," Mahurin said. He said he had "taught her what to do. It's the kind of case local authorities say is far too common in Sonoma County and across the nation: Vulnerable young women, girls and sometimes boys sold for commercial sex by others who profit from their emotional dependence or fear of violence.
Until recently, those providing the sex would likely be considered criminals. But increasingly, authorities are viewing some prostitutes as victims of a crime, not perpetrators. With new understanding of the dynamics of human trafficking, local law enforcement agencies are reassessing their approach to combatting prostitution and trying to change attitudes. More likely they're working for someone who maintains strict control over their lives and their money, he said.
It is part of a campaign to raise community awareness and make the county inhospitable to people who traffic other humans for any purpose. The conference drew about 50 hotel and motel workers to learn how to detect sex trafficking. Signs may include an unusual number of people coming and going from a room; women from outside the area, wearing skimpy clothing, who let their male partner do all the talking; a man who wants to register without showing identification or a credit card, or who uses the woman's identification to register but pays cash for the room himself.