Human trafficking in Texas is nothing new, but the state's previous efforts to end this practice have fallen short. To address the continuing problem, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot recently announced the creation of a new task force, which he says, "will take an aggressive stand against human traffickers, who have turned Texas into a hub for international and domestic forced labor and prostitution rings."
A big part of the problem is that victims of human trafficking crimes often do not realize that they are being exploited. From dishwashers to prostitutes, many believe they are working off debt. The Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force aims to raise awareness of the issue, eliminate the demand for this kind of labor, understand the routes traffickers use, and report statistics.
Texas and Human Trafficking
Each year, 800,000 people become human trafficking victims and are transported across international borders. According to the Texas Attorney General, 20 percent of those people pass through Texas.
Texas was one of the first states in the U.S. to recognize human trafficking as a crime in 2003. Since then, Houston and El Paso have been cited by the U.S. Department of Justice as the places where human trafficking is most prominent.
What the Task Force Hopes to Accomplish
According to Abbot, the task force "will coordinate, fortify and expand law enforcement tools to prosecute traffickers and help better identify victims of 'modern-day slavery."
As human traffickers naturally move around, intelligence on their activities needs to move with them. The Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force aims to connect law enforcement in different Texas cities. In addition, members of the task force will be made up of law enforcement, social services workers and officials from NGOs.
Adapted from "New Task Force Aims to Fight Human Trafficking in Texas." 24-7 Press Release. 2 April 2010.
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