THOUSAND PALMS, Calif. -

It is one of the most profitable and fastest growing crimes in the U.S.

"Our proximity to the borders and to the major highways and the rest of the country make us one of the key states for human trafficking," said Gerald Fineman, Riverside County Supervising Deputy District Attorney.

Human sex-trafficking is largely under-reported, mostly because identifying victims can be difficult and a sophisticated cyber-underground makes it possible for human trafficking to occur between pimps and buyers.

The Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force says websites such as Backpage, MyRedBook and hundreds of others are used to sell sex.

"These type of postings are everywhere in Riverside County which makes it largely undetected, unnoticed," said Deputy Daniel Engels," Riverside County anti-human trafficking taskforce.  

"And a lot of people don't think it's happening here," Engels continued.

12 is the average age of a sex trafficking victim, but that's not always the case.

Rachel Thomas was trafficked when she was a junior in college.

"He said I guarantee you that I'll get you your first gig within a month, and you know if I fail what have you lost because I'm investing all the start up costs," said Thomas.  "And if I succeed you can sign with my agency," Thomas continued.

Rachel says it all started when she was approached by a man in a business suit named "Mike," claiming to be a top-ranked modeling agent.

She says within weeks of meeting him, she was booked on music videos and photo shoots for magazines, but it soon turned into something else. 

Rachel says "Mike" told her to fill out a W-4 form to get paid for the work she was doing early on.

He never gave the form to any director.

Instead he kept it, using the personal information on it to exploit her.

"He said whoever you tell I will kill you and kill them, and if you try to escape I know where your parents live," said Thomas.

Rachel says "Mike" forced her to meet with clients including celebrities, lawyers, doctors even some in law enforcement.

"Some of the environments he took me to no one knew I was a victim," said Rachel.

"It was only if you had his number and you knew what he did as a pimp that they would know I was a victim," said Thomas.

Rachel lived the nightmare for nearly a year. 

"I went through a period of depression I went through a suicide attempt, " said Thomas.

The Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force works to identify and rescue victims locally.

Since forming in 2010, it's investigated 250 incidents where human trafficking was believed to be occurring.

20 of those incidents were in the Coachella Valley.

The task force has also rescued or identified 169 victims.

Operation SafeHouse is a non-profit organization that works in partnership with the task force.