Ugly Among Us
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Sep 01, 2013
Child trafficking is a dirty business. I think
we all know it happens but we don’t give it a
second thought, unless it happens in your
family. Texas is a hub for international human trafficking
because of its many busy interstate highways,
international airports, countless bus stations and
shipping commerce through the Gulf of Mexico.
The shared border with Mexico is North America’s
number one supply site for young children used in
sex and labor trafficking.
Houston, the fourth largest city in the United
States, has one of the largest international communities
in this country. Interstate Highway 10
runs through Houston, which the Department of
Justice has designated as the number one route for
human trafficking. The borders in Texas are porous
and are the biggest point of illegal entry into the US
because traffickers are able to get aliens across the
border without documentation.
There are many unseemly things in life, but this is
ugly among us.
Trafficking in Texas flourishes because of three
main factors: proximity, demographics and the large
immigrant labor force. This is not just about Texas;
in the last quarter of 2007, 30 percent of the calls received
by the National Human Trafficking Hotline
were out of the Lone Star State, and 25 percent of all
international victims certified by the Department of
Health and Human Services were in Texas.
Traffick911 is a team of passionate people driven
to stop the sale of American children into sexual slavery.
This team began its work in the inner city of Fort
Worth, Texas, and is committed to helping trafficking
victims reclaim their lives.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. Sadly,
there are more slaves today than at any point in history.
In fact, there are twice as many slaves now than
during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It is the fastestgrowing
crime in the world, where perpetrators make
$32 billion a year buying and selling people for profit
and their pleasure. The profits are huge and the risk
of being prosecuted, slim. The United Nations says
that 99 percent of victims are never rescued.
Why is Texas such a hotspot? Domestic human
trafficking can hide quite well in the city,
especially Houston, Dallas and Austin, where there are
numerous runaway and “throwaway” youth. Houston
and Dallas have about 6,000 runaways annually.
According to National Incidence Studies of Missing,
Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Children, an
estimated one of every three children that run away
are lured into sex trafficking within 48 hours of
leaving home. Sadder than this, many runaways are as
young as 12 or 13 years of age.
These youngsters congregate at bus stations, which
have become a major recruiting ground for prostitution.
It is estimated that one in five girls and one in 10
boys in the United States are sexually exploited before
they reach adulthood. Texas also has numerous sexually
oriented businesses, including strip clubs, massage
parlors and modeling studios. Sadly, many of
them are located along inter and intra-state highways.
And, because there are many professional and prominent
college sports teams and events in the state, there
is a great demand for the commercial sex industry,
and traffickers want to meet the demand.
The stories are sad and demeaning to a young person,
who is bought and sold, forced into sexual slavery.
While it is true that there are children who are at
higher risk for becoming a victim, such as runaways
and throwaways, all American children are at risk.
Gangs and the Mexican Cartels are sending recruiters
into Texas schools to find unwilling victims. Children
are kidnapped. People they know are selling them and
threatening their families if they tell. Sometimes their
own families sell them.
The story is told of one little girl, who finally told
her captor just to kill her—she couldn’t do it anymore.
The pimp refused, telling her that he makes too much
money off her. If she wouldn’t do what he told her to,
he would kidnap her 8-year-old sister and pour battery
acid over her face while she watched. The little
girl complied, living in a dog cage when she wasn’t
being sold to man after man.
A lack of awareness in our country, coupled with
the explosion of the Internet makes the job of the
pimp and the recruiter easy and the job of law enforcement
extremely difficult. The scope of this horrific
crime seems impossible, but each person can
make a difference by teaching their own children
about the traps and traffickers and knowing the red
flags to watch for in other children.
Very concerned about this heinous activity, the FBI
conducted a raid on July 29 in which 105 children were
rescued from forced prostitution. Raids were conducted
in 76 American cities. More than 150 people were
arrested. Forty-seven FBI divisions took part.
Most of the rescues and arrests occurred in San
Francisco, where 12 juveniles were saved and 17 arrests
made; Detroit, 10 youth, 17 arrests; and Milwaukee,
“This operation serves as a reminder that these
abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere and that the
FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization,”
said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the
FBI’s criminal investigation division.
This rescue is likely only a drop in the bucket, but
it certainly is an important start to rescuing children
who deserve to enjoy the innocence of childhood.
This article originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Security Today.