Officials correlate uptick in sex trafficking to big events in Houston

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A coalition of law enforcement officers is warning oil and gas workers about paying for sex while in town for their big industry convention.

A coalition of law enforcement officers is warning oil and gas workers about paying for sex while in town for their big industry convention.

It is a warning repeated every year.

"We are looking for you," said Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman.

"This is a large event. There's going to be a lot of people in Houston," Houston Police Department Captain Dan Harris said.

When big events like the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), NCAA Final Four or Super Bowl are in town, so are the sex traffickers with their workers and those looking to take advantage. The numbers are not dwindling.

"Domestic trafficking is on the rise and it's something we want to get a handle on," Hickman said.

At a Tuesday afternoon news conference, a wall of law enforcement warned prostitutes, pimps and johns about their efforts.

"We look at massage parlors. We look at websites. We look at Craig's List, backpages," Hickman continued.

Monday night, Asahi on W. Alabama was busted. It advertises as a massage parlor, but deputies with the Harris County Precinct 1 Constable's Office called it a "sex parlor." Two women were arrested for prostitution.

Investigators are also teaming up with anti-human trafficking organizations like Free the Captives.

"That girl could be your daughter, your cousin, your niece, your granddaughter," emphasized Julie Waters with Free the Captives. "Before you make that purchase, think about how you're impacting her life."

They hope one day they don't have to do this yearly warning.

"They're parasites. They know there will be an influx of people from out of town and so they show up and take advantage of that," Capt. Harris added.

According to HPD half the women arrested for prostitution during the Final Four were from out of town. The Harris County Sheriff's Office has arrested 175 people for prostitution so far this year. That's more compared to last year, said Sheriff Hickman.

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