Religious hymns and songs gave way to a special vigil mass honoring the many victims and survivors of human trafficking.
The event was put on by the Coalition of Justice, a local group dedicated to raising awareness on the issue.
“We noticed there are no laws watching this problem and even the community is unaware this is going on,” said Gabriel Contreras, group founder.
Contreras founded the group last December after learning his 20-year-old daughter was being trafficked by her boyfriend.
"This boyfriend started working mentally on my daughter as her boyfriend and ended up selling her to a group of criminals,” said Contreras.
The boy Contreras had welcomed into his home so many times had suddenly become her daughter’s pimp.
"Those criminals know how to work with victims and they threaten their families as they did with us," said Contreras.
According to the FBI, San Diego is ranked among the 13 worst regions in the United States for human trafficking. The business generates more than $810 million annually for San Diego’s underground economy. Often times human trafficking is not a matter of kids being picked up off our streets, traffickers deceive, coerce and threaten their victims
"They groom their victims over the phone through messages,” said Contreras.
In this war against human trafficking, Contreras says communication between kids and their parents is key.
"Get more communication with your daughters and sons and try to see if there is something uncommon going on with them,” said Contreras.
Early intervention could save lives.