HOUSTON, Texas – The Houston Police Department (HPD) is asking for the public’s assistance in its efforts to combat the plague of human trafficking and sex trafficking that happens in this city. Houston is regarded as one of the leading cities in the United States in this crime arena.
“Human trafficking can occur anywhere and there are many factors that come together to make Houston one of the major human trafficking ‘hubs’ in the nation,” HPD officials wrote in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. The department lists Houston being the largest city in Texas, its proximity to the Mexican border, the major international airports and shipping ports, the popularity of the city in attracting runaways, and the large sex industry in the city as factors contributing to this unwanted status.
The department asks members of the public who might be aware of people who may be victims of human trafficking or places where human trafficking may be occurring to contact the department’s vice division at 713-308-8600.
In the meantime, the department is continuing its on-going operation aimed at targeting those who are involved in this industry either as sellers or buyers of prostitution services.
Over the past month vice officers conducted sting operations in three locations in southeast Houston. The operation landed 24 men and one woman in jail, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The men were all potential customers who were reported to have approached a woman and asked to buy sexual services. The woman was arrested for allegedly offering sexual services for money.
The department is focusing on the buyers of prostitution in an effort to reduce the demand for the services of the women who are, in many cases, being forced to provide the services. “By targeting patrons, the hope is to reduce demand for these illegal activities and the exploited women forced into them,” the Chronicle reported from an HPD statement.
The profits obtained from prostitution services often also fund the trafficking of children. This was the case in an east side cantina, Las Palmas II, where women and underage girls were forced into prostitution. Eighteen people were indicted in that case on charges of forcing women and little girls into prostitution. Only one of these criminals remains at-large. Police have offered a $50,000 reward for the arrest of Alfonso “Poncho” Diaz-Juarez, for his role of allegedly acting as a “padrote” or pimp.
In November, sixty people were arrested during a sting operation, Breitbart Texas reported. Eleven men and two women were also arrested in another sting operation earlier in the month.
In perhaps the most shocking story of forced prostitution in recent memory, a Houston man was arrested by vice officers on charges of pimping a 4-year-old little girl online, Breitbart Texas reported. Andrew Turley, 28, allegedly negotiated with Houston vice officers online to sell the use of a little girl’s body fro $1,000 for two hours. When police arrived they found the little girl lying in a small bed. Prosecutors said the child appeared groggy and to be under the influence of an unknown substance.
HPD recommends learning more about human trafficking at United Against Human Trafficking website.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and is a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.