Sugar Land man accused of child sex trafficking is believed to be part of bigger operation, DPS says

Alex Bozarjian Image
Friday, March 29, 2024
Sugar Land trafficking suspect may be part of larger operation: DPS
Texas Department of Public Safety special agents arrested Zachary Pereira, a part-time Houston Country Club worker, in a child sex trafficking case.

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) -- A Sugar Land man is behind bars on charges of sex trafficking a minor and promoting prostitution.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Zachary Pereira, 33, is said to be one of multiple traffickers involved in the operation.

DPS special agents arrested Pereira near 9400 Westheimer in Houston's Mid-West neighborhood.

They also rescued an underaged sex trafficking victim, but DPS believes this is a big operation and there are a lot more victims.

"We've got special agents that are dedicated to just human trafficking, and every week, they are working on these investigations," Lt. Craig Cummings with the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

According to the Houston Area Woman's Center, Houston ranks No. 1 for sex trafficking cities in the U.S.

Just this year alone, DPS special agents arrested 60 alleged human traffickers during operations.

Cummings said the silver lining is they've also rescued 50 victims, including 10 minors.

"Sadly, there are times that we would recover a victim multiple times," Cummings said.

Pereira was allegedly trafficking the minor recovered in this latest operation. Records show she was subjected to sexual assault and prostitution.

"Our role is to try to find these victims and then find these traffickers and get them behind bars where they belong," Cummings said.

Pereira was arrested on Monday.

According to court documents, he was already out on bond for an invasive visual recording charge.

Those documents state that in 2022, he took videos of a female coworker while she was sleeping and while she was naked in the shower.

According to the documents, when police tried to arrest him, he ran and also caught a charge for that.

ABC13 learned that, until his arrest on Monday, Pereira was working a new part-time job at the Houston Country Club.

Management there said he's since been terminated, and they are cooperating with authorities.

They did not specify what Pereira did at the club.

Lt. Cummings said Pereira is likely a tiny fish in a large operation.

DPS is tight-lipped about the amount of players involved, but they are working with partners at the federal level to close in.

It takes undercover work and many hours, but he said even just one trafficking victim rescued is a win.

"Every person that we can recover, it's worth all of the effort that we put in. If we only get one individual throughout the year that turns their life around, that is worth it for us," Cummings said.

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