Human trafficking is modern day slavery. Contrary to common belief, it doesn’t just happen internationally. It is a domestic problem, and Texas is one of the top destination points for victims and traffickers in the nation.
My office has made it a priority to combat human trafficking—which is why, last fall, we joined forces with Truckers Against Trafficking and the Texas Trucking Association. It’s an innovative way of putting more eyes and ears on the road.
Truckers Against Trafficking’s mobilization of the trucking industry and the willingness of the trucking industry to take up that call is an exciting example of the difference that public/private partnerships can make in the fight against human trafficking.
The partnership is important to all Texans. It helps ensure that victims will be identified and rescued, and that traffickers will find themselves behind bars.
Texans... boys, girls, men and women are being sold into the commercial sex industry and forced labor by intimate partners, relatives, career criminals, and organized gangs, among others.
This type of behavior will not be tolerated in our state, and the people who commit these unconscionable acts will be punished harshly.
Earlier this year, we created a dedicated unit to work solely on human trafficking. The Human Trafficking and Transnational/ Organized Crime Section is now staffed at 3 prosecutors, 4 investigators, a victim advocate, and crime analyst.
Since this unit was created, they assisted the Nueces County District Attorney’s Office in a continuous trafficking case involving a 15 year old victim, and helped secure a 40-year sentence for that child’s trafficker. They are also working hand in hand with other prosecutors around the state to bring justice for victims.
In addition to ongoing case work, this team has trained over 4,000 individuals around the state, including law enforcement, education and medical professionals, truckers, students, lawyers, judges, and many others.
Here in San Antonio today, this is the 4th of 5 human trafficking coalition builds we’re doing throughout the state of Texas. Previous builds were in Houston, Lubbock and Tyler.
Texas Attorney General’s office is the first state to commit to a series of coalition builds in an effort to reach the entire state.
These coalition builds are trainings designed to educate law enforcement and trucking about human trafficking, but they are also an opportunity to build local and lasting relationships between trucking and law enforcement around the issue of human trafficking.
While we are delighted to be a member of this unique partnership, I want to take this moment to issue a challenge to every Texan. Ask yourself: What are you doing to fight modern day slavery? What role can you play in your business? Your home? Your children’s schools? And your community?
It is time to bring all hands on deck and to marshal the breadth of Texas talent against this pernicious crime.
Ending human trafficking is not something that the AG’s office can do alone and it is partnerships like these that help move the needle towards real change.