Fight to stop human trafficking in Houston isn't easy

Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Fight to stop human trafficking in Houston isn't easy
Human trafficking has deep roots and there are a factor of reasons making it harder for detectives to find and shut down operations

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- On any given night, there are thousands of women and children enslaved in the growing sex trafficking industry. And sadly, Houston has become an international hub.

How deeply embedded is this problem in the Bayou City? It's got deep roots.

"Modern day slavery still exist in Houston. It is alive and well and it is in the form of human trafficking," said Al Tribble with the FBI.

Tribble and the FBI recently shut down two brothels and arrested 14 for running an international sex trafficking ring. But one suspect, Alfonzo Dias Juarez, got away.

"We want him badly. He's a sinister character," Tribble said. "We want him, we want him. He's is a top priority."

The indictment against him and others makes this Houston problem clear: "Women and girls were compelled into commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, coercion ... including the use of locked rooms to maintain control over the girls."

In the past year and a half there has been a sickening discovery. The dark alleys of Houston have become an international sex trafficking hub. All points lead to this city. It has become the perfect storm.

"They've been lied to, coerced, and brainwashed," HPD's Lt. McGregor said.

McGregor knows these cantinas, brothels, massage parlors and stash houses better then most, but cracking these sex rings is not easy.

"We're having a tough time doing that," he said.

"The girls just don't want to talk?" we asked.

"No, they're scared of us. If we talk about the international ones, they're scared of being deported," he said.

Back on the streets, we come across several women attempting to prostitute themselves. And Cat French with the non-profit Elijah Rising, is on a mission to save the enslaved. She hits the streets with a mission to rescue one girl at a time.

"The objective is to bring the message of hope and love," she said.

No girls were rescued from slavery that night, but the FBI and police agencies are pleading for help. Sex trafficking is booming in Houston and the thugs and pimps responsible don't care about anything but the green back, money. It is a lucrative, secretive industry that all Houston area law enforcement agencies are now paying special attention to.