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Sex trafficking being hidden by some of our Sunnyside leaders

The average age that a girl begins getting sex trafficked by gangs in our community seems to be about 12 years old. The nature of this is that the gangs have recruiters whose entire purpose is to look for vulnerable young women to exploit. They look for young girls who might be insecure, in the foster care system, or have what one former recruiter called, "daddy issues."

They feed these young girls lies until they have them right where they want them. They get them hooked on drugs or alcohol. So begins "The Life."

There is not a suitable stereotype for these girls either, in the Lower Valley they are caucasian and Hispanic. They are from poor families and middle class ones. They are "A" students and "C" students.

Many of you are reading this in disbelief right now. Yet our city leaders were made aware of this activity in January and have done all they can to make sure you never found out. Specifically, Don Vlieger, Mike Farmer and Frank Sweet have, with a great deal of intention, tried to prevent the community from being made aware. With the same determination they tried to make sure that people in the community who did know, could not do something about it.

My understanding is that nationwide the lifespan of a girl being trafficked is 17 years of age. While it is hard to know exact numbers, from what we are hearing from victims, from Yakima to the Tri-Cities, there could easily be 100 or more girls being trafficked right now as you read this letter.

As a follower of Christ, I consider myself "pro-life," meaning all children deserve a chance to experience all that God has planned for them...from the unborn to the 12-year-old girl being sold over and over I am pro-life.

The girls in our community that are caught up in sex trafficking are someone's daughter, sister, cousin, and/or friend. They were created in God's image. We will not allow these girls to be written off, never given a chance to be productive citizens, and tossed out with the trash. Our community is better than this.

Our leaders need to be better than this.

Please consider joining me in demanding the resignations of Interim City Manager Frank Sweet, Mayor Mike Farmer and Deputy Mayor Don Vlieger.

The life of a daughter/sister/cousin/friend of someone in our community depends on it.

/s/ Pastor Cameron Garcia, Sunnyside

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