Slavery doesn’t just occur in history books. Slavery happens every day in our own communities. Human trafficking crimes continue to grow in the shadows of our society, and is one of the largest criminal industry in the world.
Human trafficking is modern day slavery. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of sexual exploitation and/or forced labor.
Traffickers offer fraudulent promises of employment, a romantic relationship, education or a better life to lure their victims. They coerce victims into servitude through the use of blackmail, manipulation, and intimidation that includes threatening serious harm to the victims or their family members. Traffickers often also use force on their victim through confinement, starvation, physical assault and/or rape.
The crime of human trafficking can happen everywhere, but large cities like Houston are especially ripe for this crime. Houston contains many elements that create the perfect storm for this crime to flourish. The city provides access to major freeways, international air and shipping ports and a busy rail industry. The city’s proximity to the Mexican border, coupled with its transportation accessibility, makes it a popular point of entry for human trafficking.
Houston’s diverse population makes victims harder to identify, as it is easier for them to be missed in our large and varied population. All of these features effortlessly facilitate the transportation of both domestic (US Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents) and international victims (Foreign-born).
The harsh reality is that there is an estimated 21 million people who are enslaved worldwide. Research from the University of Texas shows that 313,000 are estimated to reside in Texas. Many misconceptions exist about human trafficking, one of which includes the idea that most victims are foreign born. The reality proves that human trafficking is in fact both a global and local problem. Victims are women, men, teenagers and young children. This is a crime we cannot ignore and it will take all of us coming together to bring an end to human trafficking.