Dirty Dallas: Inside the City’s Shocking Sex Trafficking Data

Sex trafficking | Image by Frank Brennan/Getty Images

The City of Dallas has a sex trafficking problem, according to Shepherd’s Watch Foundation. 

“There are 400+ escort sites servicing the Dallas area; it’s near impossible to count them all,” Stacey Montgomery, the organization’s president, told The Dallas ExpressShe went on to say that 73 illicit massage businesses (IMBs) or brothels service Pegasus City.

However, this does not mean these are all of the underground sexual services available to Dallas residents. Montgomery explained that Shepherd’s Watch’s figures are limited to areas “where addresses have ‘Dallas’ as the actual city in the physical description.” This means that if an IMB or brothel has an address in a neighboring city, such as Irving, the operation would not be recorded in Dallas figures despite the high likelihood that it also services Dallas residents. 

Shepherd’s Watch is a non-profit civilian investigative intelligence operation. Its goal is to gather evidence on sex trafficking operations to help law enforcement in the United States prosecute these crimes. Their focus is on sex trafficking, which refers to the forcible use of human slaves (mostly women and children) for sexual purposes. It is distinct from voluntary acts of prostitution committed by consenting adults. 

Dallas is currently experiencing a surge in prostitution and human trafficking. There has been a 54.5% increase in prostitution and a 70% increase in human trafficking for commercial sex in the first few months of 2024, DX previously reported. 

Meanwhile, the City of Dallas has not matched spending for its police department with other major cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. DPD was budgeted only for $654 million in fiscal year 2024. Similarly, the police department is around 1,000 officers short of the 4,000 policemen officials say it needs to maintain public safety. 

Adding further complexity to the prostitution and sex trafficking situation, efforts by the City government to restrict sexually oriented businesses have been tied up in the federal court system.

Dallas City Council members passed an ordinance mandating that sexually oriented businesses close between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. in 2022. Yet a class of businesses, mostly strip clubs, sued in an action known as Association of Club Executives of Dallas, et al. v. City of Dallas, Texas. The City of Dallas recently scored a major victory in the dispute as the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s judgment against the municipality. 

An important characteristic of sex trafficking rings is that they tend to relocate every 48 to 72 hours. As Montgomery explained to DX, this means the organization’s figures “change constantly.”

DX previously covered a Shepherd’s Watch event in Bonham, where presenters reported having detected a trafficking ring that had moved from Georgia to Midland, Texas. They did not know why the ring had moved in this case, but they suspected it may have been to evade prosecution from local authorities. 

The material provided to attendees at the event identified mass unlawful migration across the southern border as favorable to the high degree of mobility investigators have seen in trafficking operations. Unlawful migration effectively provides traffickers with a continuous stock of new sex slaves, the presentation pointed out.

Another facilitator is the internet, according to the presentation, as it provides new geographic flexibility to operations that may not have been possible in a prior era.

This tracks with revelations about alleged sex trafficking among the American cultural elite. Sean Combs, known by his stage name P. Diddy, recently had multiple properties raided by authorities as part of an investigation into the rapper’s alleged connection to human trafficking. A series of lawsuits filed against the rapper have named several high-profile individuals as his associates, including some from Dallas. 

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