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Tuesday, November 29, 2022
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Dallas Taking Steps Against Human Trafficking


Harry Hines Street Sign | Image by NBC DFW

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Recently the City of Dallas has seen several high-profile instances of human trafficking. A local man was sentenced to 20 years earlier this month after pleading guilty to trafficking hundreds of women, as reported by The Dallas Express.

The influx of unlawful migrants crossing the Southern border has led some, such as Sen. Ted Cruz, to suggest that many people crossing the border are victims of human trafficking.

Late in 2021, local police freed three teenage Guatemalan migrants from alleged human traffickers.

Almost two dozen people have been arrested in Dallas for human trafficking this year alone.

A 2014 study by the Department of Justice’s Urban Institute estimated that the illicit sex industry generated nearly $99 million in Dallas in 2007, significantly driving human trafficking.

In a conversation with The Dallas Express, Senior Corporal Brian Martinez of the Dallas Police Department explained, “Human Trafficking (sex trafficking) occurs throughout the entire city of Dallas; however, there are areas known historically for sex workers and sex trafficking victims.”

“There are several spots,” said Martinez. “Off Harry Hines from Lombardy to Royal is the biggest spot. Others are I-35E/Walnut Hill, Forest/Webb Chapel, I-75/Esperanza, and Independence Dr. (I-20/Cockrell Hill). It’s in various other spots around Dallas as well,” Martinez told The Dallas Express.

Martinez continued, “The northwest business corridor of Dallas between Interstate 35N, Northwest highway, Harry Hines Blvd, Shady Trail, Walnut Hill, and Royal Lane is known for its collection of strip clubs, bars, and illicit massage establishments.”

Dallas PD has a specifically dedicated High-Risk Victims Trafficking (HRVT) Squad, which “specializes in investigations involving the sexual abuse, human trafficking, and exploitation of children under the age of 18 who are induced into commercial sex.”

Martinez explained to The Dallas Express that children are primarily lured over social media and various chat apps by predators.

“Having an effective media campaign to educate victims and the public on the signs of sex trafficking, identifying who are our possible victims and what to do once you believe someone is a victim of trafficking is how the public can help,” Martinez stressed.

Martinez suggested that “Anything that will strengthen the family unit” would work to stop the trafficking of children.

“Preventing trafficking at the community level by creating awareness of the risks of migration and providing support to children who have been trafficked and help them return home and reintegrate into their communities,” he continued.

Across the state, nearly 200 children have been suspected or confirmed to have been abducted in human trafficking events in 2021, according to data from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Texas Health and Human Services estimated that there are roughly 234,000 victims of labor trafficking and 79,000 victims of youth and minor sex trafficking in Texas at any given time, based on data in the Statewide Human Trafficking Mapping Project for Texas.

Martinez told The Dallas Express that the Dallas Police Department and the University of Texas-Dallas (UTD) are working jointly on a Human Trafficking Needs assessment grant to discuss these issues.

He explained that the Dallas Vice unit last year hired its first female victim advocate to work directly with victims of human trafficking and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide survivor-centered and trauma-informed services for sex trafficking victims.

“Ideally forming stronger partnerships with the business, faith-based and community leaders, NGOs, hospital and trauma-informed services. Having an effective media campaign throughout the city with partners mentioned previously will help fight human trafficking,” Martinez concluded.

To report human trafficking or for information or resources, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text “Help” or “Info” to 233722.

We welcome and appreciate comments on The Dallas Express as part of a healthy dialogue. We do ask that you be kind. Kind to each other and to everyone else in your comments. For more information, please refer to our Complete Comment Moderation Policy.

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