HOUSTON — On Sept. 8, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston, FBI Houston, the Houston Police Department and partner agencies from the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance announced the results of a multiagency operation that ran from Aug. 28 through Sept. 7 and targeted known human traffickers involved in the sex trafficking of minors in an area of Houston known as “the Bissonnet Track.”
Ten human traffickers were arrested during the operation, including four documented gang members and six gang associates. All 10 individuals were arrested pursuant to federal arrest warrants and are charged with various crimes such as sex trafficking of minors, sex trafficking of minors by force and conspiracy to sex traffic minors.
“The sex trafficking of minors, and human trafficking as a whole, is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the U.S.,” said HSI Houston Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson. “Approximately one-quarter of all individuals who are being trafficked for sex in the U.S. are minors. Human trafficking organizations target minors and other vulnerable or marginalized populations because they are easier to manipulate and control. By working together with our partner agencies from the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance to combat this growing problem, we are better postured to disrupt and dismantle the organizations behind the sex trafficking of minors and connect the victims with the services they need to recover.”
“Numerous young girls will no longer be raped, sexually exploited and beaten by the individuals arrested during this operation thanks to the efforts made by our partners at the Houston Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations and the agencies who make up the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance,” said FBI Houston acting Special Agent in Charge David Martinez. “Tragically, hundreds more underage sex trafficking victims won’t be rescued because we do not know about them. Without the public’s help, tormented sex trafficking victims remain in the clutches of manipulative criminals who seek only to enrich themselves at the expense of vulnerable juveniles.”
“I want to thank all of our task force partners, and especially the men and women of HPD’s Vice Division Human Trafficking Unit and Westside Patrol Division for their hard work and phenomenal job on a successful operation,” said HPD Chief Troy Finner. “The partnership and collaboration among our agencies are instrumental in dismantling of criminal organizations. We will continue to do everything within our power to find these perpetrators and hold them accountable to the fullest extent of law to protect our community.”
In addition to the criminal arrests, HSI Houston and its Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance partners identified nine minor victims and three adult victims, and they were offered support and recovery services.
“Sex traffickers often rely on physical and sexual abuse, threats of harm, economic and psychological manipulation, and cruelty to force their victims to engage in commercial sex,” added Dawson. “As a result, victims are often left with physical and emotional scars that they must carry with them for the rest of their lives. To better confront these realities of human trafficking, we integrate trauma-informed victim support services throughout our criminal investigations to aid victims in their recovery.”
Among the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance partner agencies that participated in the operation included HSI Houston, FBI Houston, the Houston Police Department, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, and various other state and local law enforcement agencies.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected sex trafficking through its toll-free tip line at 866-347-2423. Investigators staff the tip line around the clock. From outside the United States and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
For more news and information on HSI’s efforts to aggressively investigate human trafficking in Southeast Texas, follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter, @HSIHouston.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.