‘5 Stones Taskforce’ Discusses Ending Local Sex Trafficking

Tarrant County 5 Stones Taskforce | Image by 5 Stones Taskforce

The Tarrant County 5 Stones Taskforce met Tuesday to discuss ending sex trafficking in the county.

The task force is a community network of government and community agencies and concerned individuals who work together to end domestic sex trafficking in Tarrant County. It focuses on five areas to combat trafficking: awareness, training, restoration, legislative advocacy, and demand.

Lindy Borchardt, human trafficking prosecutor, and investigator Raul Rodriguez of the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s office spoke at the meeting and thanked Gov. Greg Abbott for providing the grant to establish the new human trafficking unit within the Tarrant County DA’s office. The duo encouraged meeting attendees to write notes of encouragement and support on pieces of paper throughout the night for Borchardt to deliver to trafficking victims.

Detective Jonathan Austin of Fort Worth Police Department’s human trafficking unit spoke at the meeting, providing attendees with updates from cases the unit covered.

He said a total of four cases and two tips had been reported to his unit so far in March. He related cases involving men having sex with minors, a mother reporting her son being trafficked out of Fort Worth, an individual reporting their roommate having sex with unlawful migrants and then selling those migrants afterward, and an undercover operation that led to the freedom of a girl being held captive by a man forcing her to have intercourse with him.

Detective Hayward, a detective from the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office’s human trafficking unit, was also at the meeting discussing human trafficking crimes throughout the month. She shared information about a joint operation with the Department of Public Safety that resulted in 21 arrests, as previously covered by The Dallas Express. The unit also assisted DPS from March 19-21 with an online solicitation of a minor sting operation that resulted in about 10 arrests.

In addition to law enforcement representatives, an array of human trafficking advocate agencies were also present at the meeting, including:

  • A21, which works to “reach, rescue, restore” human trafficking victims, offering aftercare services to survivors and life skills programs.
  • Unbound Now, which provides a 24/7 crisis hotline and care for North Texas trafficking victims.
  • Safe in the Six, which raises awareness about safety issues in Fort Worth.
  • Phoenix, which advocates for women who have experienced sexual assault and sexual abuse in Fort Worth.

The meeting’s keynote speaker, Sonia Hagfors of Mosaic Family Services, detailed her experiences of assisting trafficking victims around the globe, sharing certain qualities that make one vulnerable to trafficking and other takeaways from her experience.

A recent study conducted by the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (IDVSA) at The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work estimated that there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas, according to the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office.

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