Nearly 50 people have been arrested following a human sex trafficking bust operation in Texas according to authorities.
However, those arrested were not your hardened criminals like you might expect. Many are like people in your own neighborhoods. Some were even considered pillars of society.
The sting operation saw the arrest of one high school teacher, a youth pastor, a high school football coach, and the director of operations for a large specialty hospital network, according to the Christian Post.
A statement released about the human trafficking bust by the Frisco Police Department on the city’s official website. Frisco is a suburb of Dallas/Fort Worth.
“The Frisco Police Department recently participated in a multi-agency operation targeting the demand for prostitution, which resulted in 23 arrests in Frisco,” a statement on the city website read.
“On Thursday, January 12, and Friday, January 13, members of the Frisco Police Department joined other area agencies in Operation Demand Suppression. The operation focused on suppressing the demand for prostitution, and it was spearheaded by the Department of Homeland Security as part of their Blue Campaign.”
The heinous crime of human trafficking involves coercion and exchange for something of value, usually a sex act with those under the age of 18.
“Thwarting sex trafficking is one of our agency’s top priorities, one that every law enforcement office that has a role on the HSI Dallas led North Texas Trafficking Task Force takes very seriously,” said Lester R. Hayes Jr., a Homeland Security special agent in charge, according to North Texas e-News.
“By targeting those involved in this crime, we hope to disrupt this activity and provide assistance to human trafficking victims by getting them connected to the advocates and resources they need,” Hayes continued.
The U.S. Department of State’s website says human trafficking is “a grave crime and a human rights abuse,” that, “compromises national and economic security, undermines the rule of law, and harms the well-being of individuals and communities everywhere. It is a crime of exploitation.”
According to estimates, there are 27.6 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, with criminals preying on people of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities.
You can read the full press release below from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on the bust:
Dallas, Texas – Forty-six individuals were recently arrested during a multi-agency operation targeting the demand for commercial sex across North Texas. The joint law enforcement operation coincided with the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign to highlight Human Trafficking awareness month.
Among those arrested were a volunteer firefighter, youth pastor, a high school teacher and football coach, and the director of operations for a large hospital network in North Texas.
Sex trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of commercial act in exchange for something of value, or if the person performing the commercial sex act is under 18 years of age.
“Thwarting sex trafficking is one of our agency’s top priorities, one that every law enforcement office that has a role on the HSI Dallas led North Texas Trafficking Task Force takes very seriously,” said Lester R. Hayes Jr., HSI Dallas Special Agent in Charge. “By targeting those involved in this crime, we hope to disrupt this activity and provide assistance to human trafficking victims by getting them connected to the advocates and resources they need.”
Law enforcement offices participating in the operation consisted of the Arlington Police Department, Colleyville Police Department, Collin County Sherriff, Dallas Police Department, Dallas County Sherriff’s Department, Dallas County District Attorney Investigators, Flower Mound Police Department, Frisco Police Department, Irving Police Department, Midlothian Police Department, and the Tarrant County Human Trafficking Task Force.
“The victims of these heinous crimes are treated like commodities, used to make as much money as possible, as quickly as possible,” said Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn. “Those who traffic victims are the scourge of the earth, and we will continue to target those responsible for the trafficking and those who solicit sex from them.”
“The harm caused by sex trafficking in our society cannot be overstated. The Frisco Police Department is thankful for law enforcement partners like the Department of Homeland Security Investigations in helping address this serious problem,” said David Shilson, Chief of Police Frisco Police Department. “We are united in bringing to justice those who would exploit vulnerable members of our community.”
Anyone who is or who knows a potential victim in this, or any other case of sex trafficking or human trafficking or has any information regarding this or any other investigation should contact Homeland Security Investigations Toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2423.
HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the 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 over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.
Learn more about HSI’s mission to combat human trafficking in your community on Twitter @HSI_Dallas
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