Human Traffic Watch

Posts Tagged ‘texas’

Awards given to area law enforcement for their fight against human sex trafficking

In Awareness, Human Trafficking on October 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Oct. 15 a luncheon was held at the “Taste of Texas” Restaurant hosted by Mr. Edd Hendee, Lisa Blackerby and the “Free the Captives” Anti-Human Trafficking association. The luncheon was held to honor those law enforcement officials who have worked diligently to help mobilize efforts designed to quell issues associated with human trafficking and the sex trade industry. Officials were presented with award plaques for their influence and interest in fighting sex trafficking.

Constable Ron Hickman created a Regulatory Enforcement unit designed to intervene and hold accountable those who deal in the sex trade industry. Local spas designed to look legitimate are often covers for houses of prostitution and indentured servitude. The Pct. 4 Constable Regulatory Enforcement unit works closely with area law enforcement agencies including but not limited to, the Harris County Sherrifs office and the Houston Police Department. This unit is designed to enforce all applicable laws and file charges against those who are in violation of State laws and regulations. They also work in conjunction with area Vice squads and District and County attorney offices to target these illicit operations and arrest “buyers”.

Source: Our Tribune

A tour through human trafficking hell

In Awareness, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking on October 1, 2012 at 9:01 am

“Typically, when you walk into one of these spas, you’ll see a waiting room, a couch, ATM, you’ll walk in and they’ll be a window where the women are paraded out, usually in lingerie or bathing suits and you pick which one you want,” the tour guide said.

You’ll pay, a girl will tell you to get comfortable which means take off your clothes and if you don’t, she’ll shut down the whole operation thinking you may be a cop or wearing a wire.

Another problem spot: just behind Hobby Airport off Telephone Road.

“From Telephone Road, we’ll pass several spas and also several karaoke bars which are the same setup as cantinas except Asian operated and owned,” the tour guide said.

“In these places is the beginning of the exploitation that happens for a lot of women that leads to forced prostitution, trafficking; it’s kind of like the grooming process,” victim Cheryl Briggs said.

Briggs speaks from experience.  She was trafficked for two years as a young teen.  She’s now dedicated to prevention education and victim services.

“I never forget it.  It has changed me and it has taken 35 years of working on it, in different stages, it’s been a process and what I’m hoping is that other women don’t have to go through that long of a process,” she said.

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A 2nd Cup coffee shop works against trafficking

In Awareness, Human Trafficking, Social Justice on September 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm

When visiting a coffee shop, one might expect to get a latte or an espresso, but a shop in the Heights is offering something more — information about human trafficking in Houston and how to fight it.

Located at The Vineyard Church on 11th Street in the Heights, A 2nd Cup is a nonprofit coffee shop that seeks to educate people about human trafficking, to partner with anti-trafficking organizations and to fund after-care programs for survivors of human trafficking.

A 2nd Cup founder and president Erica Raggett said she decided to do something to fight human trafficking after watching a video from an anti-trafficking group in Connecticut called Love 146.

“I saw the video and I was just blown away,” Raggett said. “I couldn’t believe that [human-trafficking] was happening … I walked away from that, knowing that I wanted to do something about it.”

In February 2011 Raggett decided to merge her desire to fulfill the needs of other people with a lifetime love of coffee shops, and the idea for A 2nd Cup was born. By September 2011 she had assembled a board of directors, and A 2ndCup officially became a nonprofit in Texas, Raggett said.

Source: Rice Thresher

Feds raid Dame La Mano; shelter is target of human trafficking inquiry

In Awareness, Human Trafficking on September 8, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Dame La Mano Crisis Pregnancy Center, which helps homeless and battered women and victims of human trafficking, has become a target of a federal human trafficking investigation.

Officials of the organization on Tuesday denied any wrongdoing after federal agents raided the shelter.

Agents with Homeland Security Investigations raided the shelter in Downtown as part of the continuing criminal investigation, officials said.

About 6 a.m., federal agents arrived at the women’s shelter on Virginia Street with a search warrant. During the five-hour search, agents removed documents, which were placed in several boxes.

The women and children staying at the shelter were taken to the Salvation Army in a Sun Metro bus.

According to city emails obtained by Dame La Mano under the Texas Public Information Act, people have complained about the organization allegedly making residents solicit money on the streets and taking their Social Security checks.

That investigation began last year after Bill Lilly, director of the city Community and Human Development Department, and Niland, accompanied by police officers, visited the Family Crisis Center to inform the occupants that they needed to leave because the center did not meet city building codes.

Residents were then invited on a tour of the Salvation Army so they could decide whether they wanted to move there. While on the tour, occupants of the Family Crisis Center made comments that at Family Crisis Center and Dame La Mano, residents are asked to forfeit part of their paychecks and food stamps.

Niland then requested an investigation into both agencies.

“Until right now, they have not found anything,” Arellano said.

Source: El Paso Times

A Shelter for Victims of Sex Trafficking Offers Counseling, Schooling and Safety

In Awareness, Human Trafficking on July 19, 2012 at 3:39 pm

On the outskirts of the city, a two-story lodge with a wraparound porch is largely hidden on a 110-acre site in the woods. Horses graze in front of the building, and a volleyball court and educational center stand behind. Down winding paths are a ropes course, a pool and a lake.

But the name of the recently opened facility, Freedom Place, cannot be found, and its address is undisclosed: it is the state’s first privately run safe house that provides long-term housing for American girls who are victims of sex trafficking. The shelter represents a new solution for state legislators and county officials as they try to figure out how best to support such victims.

“Typical emergency shelters — girls would just totally run from them,” said Kellie Armstrong, the executive director of Freedom Place, which can house up to 30 residents. The staff arranges counseling, schooling and recreational activities.

In Texas, the effort to end sex trafficking of minors has shifted since the Texas Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that domestic minors younger than 14 involved in prostitution should be considered victims rather than criminals. But the state has no “safe harbor” laws that establish a systematic response for providing minors with necessary services without criminalization.

Source: New York Times

Texas’ first sex trafficking treatment center a ‘place of beginning again’

In Child Sex Trafficking, Forced Prostitution, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking on April 10, 2012 at 9:16 am

Kellie Armstrong, Executive Director of Freedom Place, releases butterflies with supporters Friday afternoon after dedicating the Freedom Place site north of Houston.

As Mark Tennant opened the dedication of Freedom Place, Texas’ first residential care facility for victims of child sex trafficking, he said the journey from an overgrown plot of land 15 years ago to a fully furnished 30-bed facility today was “remarkable and overwhelming.”

Tennant, the CEO of Spring-based Arrow Child and Family Ministries, said the group had envisioned many things for the land when they first laid eyes on it, and told a crowd of community supporters he was happy to find something “Arrow and God could use.”

“We are restoring joy to broken lives,” Tennant said. “This is a land of beginning again.”

Source: Your Houston News

El Paso: secret corridor for modern-day slavery

In Awareness, Bonded Labor, Debt Bondage among Migrant Workers, Forced Labor, Human Trafficking, Involuntary Domestic Servitude, Sex Trafficking on February 15, 2012 at 10:26 am

After 15 years of domestic servitude and never seeing a dime from the $50 a week she was promised, a woman was finally freed from enslavement. This did not happen in some foreign country where poverty is rampant, or in a war-torn area in a forgotten part of the world.  This happened here in El Paso, a city that has become a highway for modern-day slavery or human trafficking.

Of all the immigration issues that this border town faces, human trafficking seems to be El Paso’s dirty little secret. “We know that (trafficking) is big and existent,” says Virginia McCrimmon, crime victim specialist with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. “We don’t know how big or how small.”

Since 2005, McCrimmon worked as the Salvation Army’s head of the Anti-Human Trafficking Program in El Paso, providing services to meet basic social and emotional needs of victims. In May 2011, she was hired to work with human trafficking victims at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

Throughout the years that she has been serving the El Paso community, McCrimmon has worked with approximately 15 men, women and children brought from China, Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. She says victims can be forced to work in practically any industry in the nation, including agriculture, sweatshop factories, construction, janitorial services and even restaurant services.

Source: Minero Magazine

Juarez police arrest couple who allegedly prostituted teen girls

In Child Sex Trafficking, Forced Prostitution, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking on February 7, 2012 at 6:08 am

Juárez city police today detained a couple on suspicion of sex-trafficking after a 16-year-old alleged that she managed to call the authorities after escaping from a home where she was being held against her will.Authorities identified the suspects as Jorge Alberto Gomez Naranjo, 31, and Alicia Gonzalez Avila, 28, who allegedly prostituted the 16-year-old and at least three other 15-year-old girls.The detentions took place in the Isla Guadalupe neighborhood around 1:25 a.m. today.Witnesses told police that the couple communicated with their customers through a newspaper ad, where they published their telephone number.The couple allegedly transported the girls to wherever the customers wanted, including motels and private homes.Police said the 16-year-old told them that she met the couple through relatives.

Juárez police arrest couple who allegedly prostituted teen girls

Super Bowl XLVI, Houston Texas and Sex Slavery – Human Trafficking. What do they have in common?

In Human Trafficking on January 26, 2012 at 11:53 am

What I saw today was angering and sad at the same time.  As you have seen in the pictures I took, these girls are living in deplorable conditions. The bed, pictured below, sleeps as many as four to six girls in one night.I was told these spa’s bring in about $1,500 per shift, per girl.  Many spas operate 24 hours per day.  Now this isn’t the only money involved. This is just the door fees paid to the “house” when the client enters. After that is the fees paid to the girl which might run anywhere from $40 to $200 per session depending on the services requested. The door fees alone can total up to a half million dollars a month from just one spa. Many own up to as many as four or five.

(Bob Price via Texas GOP Vote Blog)
Super Bowl XLVI, Houston Texas and Sex Slavery – Human Trafficking. What do they have in common?

TX Police: Human trafficking bust made in San Antonio

In Human Trafficking on January 4, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Texas authorities say they’ve busted an alleged human smuggling operation at a home in San Antonio. Early Monday morning, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials took 20 suspected illegal immigrants into custody, along with two suspects.  Police made the discovery after responding to a call about suspicious vehicles parked outside the house, not far from the heart of downtown. Investigators say they found 20 victims of human smuggling lying on the floor inside the house.   ICE agents also found more than $3,000 in cash, and a ledger detailing the names of the smuggling victims, and the amounts owed for bringing them into the U.S.

(Kelsey Wheatcroft for 14 News)

The article goes on to say the victims will be deported.  Really frustrating, as I’m sure some of them could possibly qualify for one of the visas options that have been created for human trafficking victims.

TX Police: Human trafficking bust made in San Antonio

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