HOUSTON, Texas – A two week prostitution sting operation landed sixty people in jail as Houston brings focus to human trafficking in the Bayou City. The arrests occurred during the first two weeks of October and have recently been revealed as part of an ongoing statewide anti-human trafficking push by Texas law enforcement officials.
The Vice Division of the Houston Police Department announced it is changing the way it is tackling the problem of human trafficking. Captain Dan Harris told the Houston Chronicle that his division is going to “work smarter, not harder” by going after human traffickers and partnering with other local law enforcement agencies. He said their department is tracking trends in social media, and youth trends as well, to attempt to gain an edge in this problem that plagues the city.
The arrests of sixty people in the first half of October represent the results of this effort. Charges range from misdemeanor prostitution, to felony prostitution, to promoting prostitution.
Houston is one of the leading cities in American in regards to sex trafficking and human smuggling. A recent report by the International Labor Organization reveals a $99 billion commercial sexploitation industry. This figure represents two-thirds of a $150 forced labor market in the U.S.
The arrests in Houston come on the heels of other successful operations across Harris County and its neighboring counties. Recently, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office raided a “gentlemen’s club” in northwest Houston and arrested twenty-five people on prostitution related charges, the Chronicle reported. That bust landed fourteen women and eleven men in the county lockup.
This week, police in Texas City (southeast of Houston) reported the arrests of two women for prostitution and eleven men who were seeking the services of prostitutes, according to another Chronicle article. That vice operation was carried out by a task force made up of law enforcement officers from the Texas City Police Department, U.S. Marshall’s Service, Chambers County Sheriff’s Office, and the League City Police Department.
The Pasadena and Deer Park police departments joined forces to arrest a dozen more people on prostitution related charges in October. This operation targeted online prostitution. The women met undercover officers at a local hotel and were arrested. Each of the women had a male who accompanied them to the hotel and many of those men were also arrested, the Chronicle reported.
Across Texas, other operations have been carried out to combat human trafficking in the Lone Star State. Breitbart Texas reported last week about operations in Austin and McAllen. The Austin operation landed forty-one people in jail including twenty-eight men and thirteen women. One of the men arrested in this operation was a man who had previously served on the board of a rescue operation aimed at helping women who have been trafficked and forced into prostitution. The McAllen operation landed eleven men and five women in the local jail for prostitution related charges.
In August, Breitbart Texas reported the prostitution arrests of eight women in College Station, Texas (about 95 miles northwest of Houston). No men were arrested in that particular operation. This sting, like the Pasadena operation, was focused on the area of online sexual services advertising. That operation was conducted by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Also in August, Breitbart Texas’ Merrill Hope reported the arrest in San Antonio of a man who spent six months leading college women into prostitution. The San Antonio man, Steven Sumlin, allegedly lured women from several Texas cities into prostitution. Sumlin allegedly promised the women hundreds or thousands of dollars a day, Hope wrote. Officials say he also used intimidation and force to keep them working for him according to police said that once the women were employed.
These types of operations are expected to continue across the entire state as Texas law enforcement attempts to get a handle on this massive problem.
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.