LOS ANGELES – Junior high schools and malls filled with young girls are now prime picking grounds for pimps looking to fill a fast-growing network of underage prostitution rings in San Diego (search).
Seduced by promises of money and gifts, thousands of young girls are drawn into a life of prostitution, eventually dropping out of school to travel from city to city. Most, say police, are unable to leave. Some don’t want to.
“What we're seeing here in this country is young girls, 14-, 15-year-old girls, that come from well-off families... being lured into the sex trade,” said Chief Adolfo Gonzales of the National City Police Department (search).
April Flake's 17-year-old daughter Torrey disappeared nine weeks ago. Flake initially thought she had run away, but authorities are beginning to suspect Torrey has been ensnared by a prostitution ring – and may even be in Mexico, where police have no control over what happens.
San Diego police recently arrested Dante Dears, leader of the city's most notorious child sex ring – but investigators warn he's only the tip of the iceberg. Though they are trying to control the growing problem of child prostitution, they say the key isn't so much policing as it is parenting.
Click in the video box above to watch a report by FOX News' Trace Gallagher.