Category: Texas

Five human trafficking victims rescued, 46 arrests made in massive Houston-wide sting operation

“Operation Patriot,” a collaborative human trafficking sting operation between 23 agencies, has resulted in 46 arrests and the rescue of five victims.
The arrests took place in two missions over a four-day span in September.
The first sting took place in Missouri City when undercover officers identified and arrested suspected human traffickers and sex buyers, commonly called “johns,” the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s office said. Officers also identified and rescued multiple victims.

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2 Dallas men arrested for sex trafficking in connection to 13-year-old rescued from Irving hotel last November

DALLAS — Two Dallas men were arrested Sept. 9 after a grand jury indicted them on charges of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and sex trafficking of children, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Texas.
A third man, accused of advertising sex with a minor online, is already in federal custody and faces the same charges.
Investigators rescued the girl after posing as a buyer responding to the online advertisement. The victim was “clearly a child under the age of 18 in both her physical appearance and mannerisms,” according to a search warrant application written by investigators.
Kention Obryan Johnson, 35, and Sergio Trinidad Carvajal, 30, visited the hotel room where the child was kept, according to the U.S. Attorney.

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Texas has a strong record against sex trafficking, but Congress has work to do

Fort Worth, Texas– In 2019, U.S. prosecutions under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 declined for the second year in a row. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, are demonstrating strong bi-partisan commitment to passing stronger federal legislation to improve victims’ services and strengthen law enforcement response to human trafficking.

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Feds rescue 13-year-old girl and takedown online successor to Backpage

Dallas, Texas — U.S. Atty Erin Nealy Cox announced the seizure of the “online successor to Backpage”, a website that has facilitated many cases of youth trafficking. “DOJ didn’t stop with Backpage, and we’re not going to stop with CityXGuide,” Nealy Cox said as she assessed what’s in store for the North Texas Trafficking Task Force. “If you are going to facilitate exploitation online, we’re not going to hesitate to seize your site and bring charges against you.”

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Groves woman arrested on human trafficking charges

Beaumont, Texas — A Groves woman and a Beaumont man are facing charges of human trafficking after police located a missing juvenile in a hotel room last week. Police in Beaumont responded to the Petro Truck Stop at Walden Road and I-10 in reference to the missing juvenile. The information they received sent them to several hotels in the area in an attempt to locate the victim before they were told she was last seen at the Executive Inn, according to a press release from BPD Officer Haley Morrow.

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20th suspect in undercover child sex sting arrested

Waco, Texas — The 20th and final suspect was arrested Thursday in a local online sting in which men allegedly solicited sex from an undercover officer posing as a teenager, authorities said. Investigators this spring conducted the undercover sting designed to protect children who would potentially be more vulnerable to online exploitation as schools closed and stay-at-home orders were issued to limit the spread of COVID-19.

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Kentucky man arrested at Texas airport charged with online solicitation of a minor

Waco, Texas– According to investigators, 30-year-old Zene Morlatt of LaGrange, KY communicated with an undercover detective through text messages and a web-based electronic messaging service over the course of several weeks. During the conversation, Morlatt believed he was communicating with a 16-year-old girl and discussed the sexual performance of the child, used sexually-explicit language, and sent multiple obscene images.

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15-year-old sex trafficking victim rescued after missing since April

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — A 15-year-old girl is back home after she was recovered from a 31-year-old man’s apartment after she had been reported missing since April. The suspect, Jerreck Hillard, 31, was arrested without incident. At the time of his arrest, he was out on bond on three other felony charges. “Child sex trafficking is a despicable crime,” said Pct. 5 Constable Ted Heap. “Thanks to the hard work of our Major Offenders Division and the DPS, we were able to get this teenage victim out of harm’s way and back home.”

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Man arrested after 15-year-old rescued from sex trafficking in SE Houston

Houston, Texas– Deputies recovered a 15-year-old girl from human trafficking and arrested her alleged trafficker. Deputies said she had been reported missing since April. “Child sex trafficking is a despicable crime,” said Harris County Precinct 5 Constable Ted Heap. “Thanks to the hard work of our Major Offenders Division and the DPS, we were able to get this teenage victim out of harm’s way and back home.”

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18 arrested in child sex sting intended to protect minors vulnerable during school closures

An online sting operation launched last month has so far netted 18 arrests of men accused of trying to arrange sex with minors. McLennan County Sheriff’s Office Detective Joseph Scaramucci said he launched the investigation early last month because he knew more children would be online and potentially vulnerable during school closures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Local officials are expected to release information in the coming week with tips for parents and guardians on how to keep track of their children’s use of social media and electronic devices. “When our children are home, (parents’) automatic position is that they are safe,” Kilcrease said. “The internet allows people to reach inside of that, and parents need to know this is how children are communicating.

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If you are a sex trafficking victim, there’s an effort underway in Texas to help you apply for clemency

On Jan. 11, Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we applauded Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to pardon Robbie Ann Hamilton, a North Dallas sex trafficking survivor turned advocate who committed nonviolent crimes decades ago.
Hamilton, now 58 and an advocate and mentor for victims of trafficking and those suffering from addiction, described the state’s new path toward clemency as “monumental.” Thanks to decades of advocacy and education by nonprofits like Dallas-based New Friends New Life, she explained, “we better understand the impact of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking on the victims of these heinous crimes, and so can better address and care for the victims.”

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AG PAXTON ANNOUNCES COORDINATING COUNCIL PLAN TO HELP ERADICATE HUMAN TRAFFICKING

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that his office, leading the Human Trafficking Prevention Coordinating Council, released Phase I of a five-year strategic plan to halt and prevent human trafficking in Texas. The Coordinating Council is the first single entity in the state to focus solely on coordinating efforts to combat human trafficking, and the strategic plan uses a multi-phased, integrative approach to eradicating and preventing this heinous crime.

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Mayor Turner And City Council Approve Hotel Ordinance To Combat Human Trafficking

he mayor of Houston, Texas and the city council approved the Hotel ordinance to combat human trafficking. The ordinance requires hotels to train employees on human trafficking. Houston is the first major US city to have an ordinance. It requires them to train employees in human trafficking and in labor trafficking. The ordinance prohibits retaliation against employees that report tips.

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COVID-19 pandemic making it tougher for human trafficking victims to find help, advocates say

Austin, TX. Advocates say the pandemic has made it harder for victims of human trafficking and other types of abuse to leave dangerous situations. Korin Arkin who manages the National Human Trafficking Hotline’s call response says economic instability breeds the type of vulnerability that sex and labor traffickers prey on.

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Former Houston police officer charged with sexual assault of a child

A Houston, Texas former police officer has been charged with sexual assault of an underage woman last September. A sex trafficker put her in a hotel a couple of days before she met with the former police officer. The officer paid her $180 to have sex with her. When the 16-year-old met police in Las Vegas she told them about the police officer in Houston and they found evidence on her phone that supported what she was saying.

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UPD officer to host human trafficking safety event today

A UPD officer is hosting a human trafficking safety conference on Thursday. This event is happening at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas. The goal of the conference is to raise awareness of what is happening on a local, state and national level on human trafficking. They wan to put it to an end. Texas ranks first in the nation for active human trafficking cases.

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Survivors of human trafficking could be pardoned for crimes

Texas is making a huge stride that could help give survivors a fresh new start. The governor’s office of Texas has announced that survivors of human trafficking and domestic abuse can apply for clemency and have their crimes pardoned. Their application would go to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and they would determine if they were forced to do the crime by the trafficker or abusive partner. If so, they could be pardoned for their crime.

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Man re-arrested on new child pornography charges

In Waco, Texas a 34-year-old man was arrested last year on a felony charge involving child pornography. He is facing new charges of a second-degree charge. The new charge came when investigators found thousands of child pornography images. Australian law enforcement conducted a raid and informed U.S DHS of suspicious activity.

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In fight to end human trafficking, local advocates wonder if enough is being done

Texas is the number 1 state in the county for human trafficking. San Antonio, Texas is the hub for trafficking. Interstate 10 and Interstate 35 are the main corridors. Maria Perez, a human trafficking survivor and the founder for Our Empowering Women of America, is helping local resources in fighting this problem. Lat year in Texas, they had 561 human trafficking cases. It’s not just teens that are being trafficking its men and woman of all age and races.

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Uber Partners With Texas Attorney General to Educate Driver-Partners About Human Trafficking

Uber rideshare is partnering with the Texas Attorney general to educate drivers on human trafficking. Assistant Attorney General Mallory Myers Vincent works with the Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime Section. It is estimated that there are 25 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. In the state of Texas, there are around are 79,000 victims of youth and minor sex trafficking. There are information sessions that are open this week in Dallas and Plano, Texas. This session will highlight the suspicious activity that uber drivers should watch out for.

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Gov. Abbott pardons sex trafficking survivor

While jailed in Austin, TX. Robbie Ann Hamilton asked God to help her quit drugs and to get out of that life. After participating in groups like Alchoholics Anonymous and New Friends New Life in rehab, she turned it around, committing her life to helping homeless addicts.

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Statewide anti-human trafficking campaign launches in Tyler

The campaign called “Can You See Me?” includes a series of billboards depicting scenarios of the most common forms of human trafficking in the U.S. They are displayed in public spaces and transportation hubs across Texas to equip the public to recognize indicators and report suspicious behavior to dedicated hotline numbers.

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Reflection Ministries prepares to open village for human trafficking victims

Reflection Ministries of Texas is set to open “The Village” – a set of homes that will house victims of human trafficking – at the beginning of next year. Lisa Bownds, founder of Reflection Ministries, said they have several acres of land with five cottages. Four of the cottages will be used for housing and the last cottage will be a multi-purpose building used for counseling, therapeutic services and training classes.

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New Boutique Opens Solely for Sex Trafficking Survivors

What was once a construction trailer in Austin, Texas is now a special clothing store for certain child sex trafficking survivors. It opened on Wednesday at the Refuge Ranch, run by The Refuge for Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST). The ranch is the largest long-term residential treatment facility for child sex trafficked girls, aged 11-19 years old.

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Sex trafficking victim sues Houston hotels

A young woman out of Houston, Texas, was 15 years old when she was lured by sex traffickers. She’s suing three Houston hotels who at the time, in 2016 and 2017 when the allegations occurred, operated as Candlewood Suites, Clarion Inn and Suites – Westchase and Red Roof Inn. The young woman also claims she was even solicited by the guy working the front desk at the Clarion.

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Texas Man Charged With Child Trafficking After 15-Year-Old Girl Forced to Work off Smuggling Debt

Texas man Cesar Valdez-Perez, 36, faces charges of child trafficking and forging government documents. Valdez-Perez forced a 15-year-old Guatemalan girl to work at a restaurant to pay off a $10,000 debt for her being smuggled into the United States. The suspect pretended to be the victim’s father providing restaurant staff with forged citizenship documentation.

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Human trafficking survivor shares her story to create awareness about modern-day slavery

Maria Perez of San Antonio, TX was 25 when she fell victim to human trafficking. Perez said the man she was dating at the time suddenly changed and one night he kidnapped her—throwing her in the trunk of a car and driving across the border into Mexico. Perez is now a community activist, sharing her story and making it her mission to alert the community about the dangers that lurk around every corner in San Antonio and Texas.

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Suspected child predator in Stamford indicted after undercover operation

Russell Alan Baize, 63, of Stamford, TX was indicted Thursday for Online Solicitation of a Minor after an undercover operation targeting online child predators was conducted by the Abilene Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Baize was reportedly heavily active on social media, which was his primary platform for preying on minors.

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Dozens rescued, 37 arrested during undercover human trafficking bust: HCSO

Led by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Houston, TX, the six-night operation began on July 29 and used undercover officers to rescue those being held against their will and connect them with resources to escape their abusers. The operation ended Aug. 3, when officers made contact with human trafficking victims and their traffickers. The victims were detained and taken to a fire department where a team of social service providers were waiting to help.

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Corsicana: Man sentenced in county’s first human-trafficking case

Corey Deshundon Henderson, 40 is convicted of selling a woman and a girl to men for sex over a nine-month period has been sentenced to 99 years in prison in the first human trafficking case to be tried in Navarro County, TX. Jurors heard evidence that Henderson would slap, punch and choke his victims when they told him that they didn’t want to participate. Henderson would also utilize drugs and withhold food to gain compliance,

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Della Lou Griffin, 53, of Bowie County, TX. llegedly arranged for a female relative to engage in sex with an adult. Griffin was allegedly paid by the man for sex with the girl, according to a probable cause affidavit

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Judge sentences Quitman man to 15 years for child porn videos

Tyler, TX – A federal judge has sentenced a Quitman man to 15 years in prison in connection with an allegation he had an underage victim pose nude for videos. Daniel Wayne McCormick, 43, pleaded guilty to two federal charges of child exploitation in March. Judge Jeremy Kernodle handed down the sentence on Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Tyler.

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Local deputy awarded for dedication to fighting human trafficking

“The support of my administration and the strength of the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition is having an impact, not only in Central Texas, but throughout the state,” Det. Joseph Scaramucci told KWTX.
Scaramucci was the keynote speaker at the fundraising luncheon at the Austin Country Club in Austin, TX. Within one hour, the event raised more than $300,000.

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Meeting Professionals International Commits to Combat Child Sex Trafficking

Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the world’s largest meeting and event industry association, today announced the organization’s commitment to combat child sex trafficking through a partnership with ECPAT-USA. As part of a live stream on April 4, 2019, celebrating Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID), MPI will sign the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code) a travel and tourism industry-driven initiative that seeks to provide awareness, tools, and support to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.

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How to spot the signs of sex trafficking

Members of the public have more power than they realize to help spot and stop sex trafficking. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of trafficking victims are not kept in locked rooms or held without access to the outside world. Here are some things to look out for:

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Dallas sues to shut down 3 massage parlors accused of having prostitutes sleep in filthy rooms

City officials have shut down three northwest Dallas massage parlors they say employ women as prostitutes and have them sleep on mattresses on the floor, and four people suspected of human trafficking have been arrested. Last fall, undercover police officers said they were offered sex at each of the three parlors housed at 11309 Emerald Street: Jasmine, Passion X and Charming.

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State urging businesses to fight human trafficking

It’s been nearly three years since the legislature created a program called Texas Businesses Against Trafficking. The idea is to encourage businesses to adopt anti-trafficking policies and train their workers to spot victims. But right now, there are only six companies taking part across the state, including one in San Antonio. To get more companies on board, the state is now tweaking its rules for membership.

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Man accused of child sex abuse, child porn possession, human trafficking, pleads not guilty Monday

A New Boston, Texas, man entered pleas of not guilty Monday to charges of human trafficking, child pornography possession and sexual assault of a child. Robert Allen Smith, 34, appeared for arraignment Monday morning with Assistant Bowie County Public Defender Clayton Haas. After Haas entered the not guilty pleas, First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp asked 202nd District Judge John Tidwell to set the case for a jury trial in May.

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3 in Houston accused of sex trafficking of Fort Worth woman, reports say

Three Houston, TX. people were arrested in Houston on charges of sex trafficking after a woman from Fort Worth called her mother for help in December, saying she was being forced into prostitution, according to reports. When Kevin Winston asked her to become his prostitute, the woman resisted, but according to media reports Winston is accused of beating and forcing her into prostitution.

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Local group fighting to stop human trafficking near BCS

January is human trafficking awareness month. In Bryan, TX. a local group is looking to educate others about the growing trend. “The fact that some of the clients that I work with and some of the kiddos that I love are susceptible to this injustice makes me extremely passionate about it. It feels really close to home.”

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Twiss: Human trafficking exists locally

Capt. Carol Twiss was featured speaker at a recent meeting of the Hill Country Republican Club in Kerr County, TX. informing attendees on “Human Trafficking,” its definition and what everyday citizens can look for in their neighborhoods and hometowns.

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When a sex-trafficking victim was forced into a jail cell near her pimps, we learned something about modern slavery

An inexcusable screw-up by U.S. marshals in federal court in Fort Worth could have tanked a case against three pimps who — let’s call it what it is — enslaved an underage girl through threats and manipulation. In a circumstance that seems all but unthinkable, the victim, under arrest for her own alleged crimes, was placed in a holding cell adjacent to the very men she was supposed to take the stand against.

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Texas Matters: A Grim Look At Sex Trafficking

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There are more than 300-thousand victims of human trafficking in Texas including almost 80 thousand minors and youth victims. That’s according to a study by the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at the University of Texas. Human sex trafficking is a multibillion dollar business that has made use of the open internet for marketing and recruiting of victims. This is a look at how sex is sold online – how there are efforts to shut down those online sites – and how the traffickers adapt.

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