“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.
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.
(LUBBOCK, TX) – The Lubbock Police Department’s Special Operations Division, Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigation Division, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and Homeland Security Investigations conducted a two-day prostitution operation, August 31 through September 2, at local hotels on Avenue Q which resulted in fifteen arrests
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.
Dallas, Texas — Cyntoia Brown Long says sex trafficking is often not “black and white” and there is no “perfect victim,” as evidenced by her own case and the ongoing case of Chrystul Kizer, a teenager who is accused of killing her alleged sex trafficker and was released on bond last week.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Dallas, Texas – With COVID-19’s closures of nonessential businesses, many trafficking enterprises are violating those restrictions. These venues of sex and labor trafficking operate behind the façade of a commercial front business — like illicit massage venues used as a cover for sex 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ranch Hands Rescue in Denton County, Texas is opening a male survivors of sex trafficking home.
Ranch Hands Rescue is a counseling center and animal shelter that rescues animals from abuse or neglect and puts them in therapy to use for people who have been abused, exploited or traumatized by violence. Bob’s House of Hope will help men of ages 17 to 24.
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.
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.
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.
Houston, TX. lawyer Annie McAdams is part of team of attorneys that sued three major hotel chains this month on behalf of three sex trafficking victims in Houston. Prosecutors say one of the victims was 15 at the time a pimp drugged her and kept her working for a week at a Comfort Inn near the Southwest Freeway.
For months, she was forced into the sex trade by one of the most dangerous traffickers in the state, if not the country. Karla Solomon barely survived months of torture and what is known as modern slavery. Now that she’s safe, she has dedicated her life to telling her devastating but important story in hopes of saving others from the terrors of sex trafficking.
The arresting trooper found that Jackson is wanted out of Harris County, TX. for sexual assault of a child, compelling prostitution, and promotion of prostitution and trafficking of a person.
Jail records show Jackson is held on $55,000 bond for the drug charges, but no bond is set for the human trafficking and prostitution charges.
Jaimian Sims, 27, of Houston, TX, trafficked multiple victims. Sims is a member of a rap group and in videos he rapped that he sells “white women” and bragged about his success as a “pimp,” prosecutors said.
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.
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.
Devonte R. Roberson, 27, of DeSoto, TX, tried to sell a woman to an undercover detective for sex, authorities said. The woman was identified and rescued with the help of Unbound, a local nonprofit that offers services to victims of human trafficking.
Survivor Karla Solomon, 30, of Texas, was first trafficked for sex when she ran away from home at just 12-years-old. Her mother and stepfather were addicted to crack, and she never knew her biological father.
Investigators found the teen and took her to a nearby hospital before she was released to Child Protective Services. Officials arrested Imani Cole, 22, of Spring, TX, who created the sex ad for the 15-year-old girl. Raven Lovings, 28, of Houston, TX, was also arrested for his role in the girl’s sex trafficking.
Letty Serrano appeared to be a typical Texas high school student with a loving family until she was forced into sex trafficking. The family says at just 13 years old, Serrano was drugged and sold to sex traffickers.
David Wills, of San Antonio, TX, was found guilty of conspiring with Maria Losoya to traffic a minor girl when she was 10 years old. Wills promised to pay for the victim’s college tuition if Losoya allowed him to sexually assault the young girl. Wills faces up to life in prison.
Six females, including a 16-year-old, were identified as victims of human trafficking after a two-week sting in the Kingwood, Texas area. Seventy-nine people were arrested in the multi-agency crackdown on human trafficking and prostitution. The sting is part of an ongoing effort to help trafficking victims who are often moved from town to town.
Neighbors in a retail center in DeSoto, Texas, said they’ve noticed and reported suspicious activity at the massage business for several months. Some neighbors said they believe several women were living at the business and performing more than massages. The numerous complaints led investigators to the recovery of two human trafficking victims.
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.
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.
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.
Tremont “Mack” Blakemore, 39, was arrested at a Fort Worth, TX. house in connection to a sex-trafficking ring. At least 15 woman were found, but controlled upward of 100 women. Some women would have sex with 10 people in one night in order to make her quota.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
A 9-year-old boy is safe after police say he was kidnapped and almost trafficked to another city, but police were able to track him down just in time. Police spent the entire night tracking down the child until he was found inside a car at a local grocery store.
A deputy stopped William James Ortiz, 41, of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, at about 10:35 p.m. Monday in the 500 block of Loop 340 in Bellmead for a traffic violation, and a 17-year-old girl riding with him appeared to be intoxicated, according to an arrest affidavit.
Dallas Police and the FBI have arrested James Duncan, 37, and Katheryne Sneed, 23 on sex trafficking charges. Police said the crime happened over the course of four days, traveling through Missouri, Illinois and Texas.
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.
Texas ranked first in the nation for the number of criminal cases that wound their way through federal courts last year. Of those 74 cases, 68 involved sex trafficking and six involved labor trafficking. Texas also ranked first for the number of new criminal human trafficking cases in 2018 with 19 initiated cases.
Liberty County, TX- Large increase of truck thefts in Liberty County have led investigators to the conclusion that these pick-up trucks have been used for human trafficking and other types of smuggling activity.
Alison Franklin said traffickers prey people who have been abused. As she got older she was kidnapped by gang members in Houston. “My real trafficker pretended to rescue me from them. What I didn’t know is they actually worked together to enslave American women and children in trafficking,” Franklin said.
Russell Baize, 63 of Abilene,TX. was arrested last month for Prostitution and Online Solicitation of a Minor. Baize drove to a hotel where an undercover detective and a 16-year-old agreed to meet him, he asked for her to be sent to his room. Baize was released from jail after posting bonds totaling $105,000.
She said in her early 20s, when she worked at the truck stop east of Austin with her sister, she was aware of “Lot Lizards,” women who worked as prostitutes for the truck drivers, but she didn’t think much about their ages or their situations.
Prosecutors say Khalil S. Maxwell led a sex trafficking ring in El Paso, Texas, from March 11, 2015 through October 31, 2016. Maxwell used physical violence to intimidate and cause underage girls, ranging in age from 13 to 17, to engage in commercial sex acts for money.
[Perpetrators] engage in social engineering and make people think they are consenting participants to their own exploitation, when all the while they are pulling strings like a puppet master, says Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco, author of a book on sex trafficking
Charles Edward Garton, 40 of New Boston, TX, is facing two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Garton is accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl from February 2018 to April 2018 who came to live in the home. Garton faces five to 99 years or life in prison.
The three-day anti-sex trafficking operation was started on May 6 by the Bell County, TX. Special Crimes unit and several other agencies. Officers targeted people wanting to buy sex and those orchestrating sex operations, Sheriff Eddie Lang said.
The 16-year-old victim told authorities that Eric Taylor, 24 had cooked up fake documents that landed her jobs at strip clubs in San Antonio, TX. Detectives said Taylor forced the girl into sex and made as much as $1,000 a day off her. He is also accused of pimping out 10 other women, some of whom are runaways and juveniles.
Lawyers for Facebook and Instagram are in a Harris County courtroom Friday morning attempting to dismiss two civil cases that accuse the social media giants of not protecting victims of sex 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.
“Backwards,” she said. “We have to change it to where men are bearing the brunt of the penalty for buying and selling human beings. They are walking away without being held legally, financially accountable for the harm to individuals and the community.”
“They are going on unpunished, and are becoming so bold in when they do it and how they do it and whoever they bring in and however many lives they destroy, they don’t care, so these people have to be pulled out and really, really persecuted for what they’ve done.”
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.
An Austin-based nonprofit Allies Against Slavery has developed new technology to help social service agencies identify victims of human trafficking. The screening tool, called Lighthouse, makes it possible for organizations to quickly and effectively identify whether their clients are being exploited.
Officials from more than 10 U.S. cities convened Tuesday in Houston to learn about its successes combatting human trafficking, a broad approach in which the city’s health department, restaurant inspectors and cab companies all help identify potential victims.
Eric James Moreno, 37, of Anson,TX. was indicted February 27 on a 1st degree felony charge of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child of 14 years old. He was later released from the Jones County Jail on a $10,000 bond.
“This study shows we can do a better job identifying trafficked youth, who typically find it difficult to open up to healthcare providers,” said Dr. Claire Bocchini, a Baylor College of Medicine professor of pediatrics and the paper’s senior author.
Volunteer Morrisa Hatten, left, and program chair Staci Aldredge show some of the bras collected by Zonta Club for Free the Girls, a program providing opportunity for sex trafficking survivors to build their own business selling second-hand clothing while going to school, establishing a home and caring for their families.
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:
A new study from researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Baylor College of Medicine says a screening tool specifically designed to identify human trafficking could be more effective than current practices in identifying sexually exploited youths.
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.
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.
A new facility opening up on the North Side will help in the fight against human trafficking. The facility, called La Puerta – which translates as ‘The Door’ – will help some of the state’s estimated 79,000 victims of sex trafficking.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
A Bowie County grand jury Thursday indicted a New Boston, Texas, man. Robert Allen Smith, 34, was indicted for two counts of sexual assault of a child and single counts of continuous trafficking of persons and possession of child pornography. The abuse allegedly occurred while the girl was 15 to 17 years old.
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.
In Dallas/ Fort Worth, TX. an underage sex trafficking victim who was scheduled to testify against her abusive pimps. The threats and intimidation began almost immediately at the Fort Worth federal courthouse holding area, court records show.
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.
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.
Victims of sex trafficking — a $99 million criminal enterprise in Dallas, TX. each year alone — are penalized by our criminal justice system and our society for sexual acts they are forced into by traffickers who are essentially modern-day slave owners.