One of the most significant places in which human trafficking takes place is only a drive away from Bryan-College Station; Houston has become the largest hub for modern-day slavery in the United States. According to a Free Speech Radio News report, the city’s large sea port, international airport, and geographic position on Interstate 10, which has identified by the Department of Justice as one of the main human trafficking routes in the United States, have contributed to Houston a center of the modern day slave trade.
The Houston Rescue & Restore Coalition organizes bus tours to raise awareness of the human trafficking problem in Houston, a FSFN correspondent took a ride on one the bus tours and reported on how the HRRC points out how to identify areas where human trafficking is taking place:
Although largely a hidden crime, it is possible to detect the red flags of human trafficking from a distance. Traveling down main roads, Houston Rescue and Restore staffers point out street prostitution tracks, parks frequented by teenage runaways, and a day labor site where workers have been tricked out of their pay. But most of the sites flagged on the tour advertise as “spas” or “modeling studios” and have blacked-out windows, barred doors, security cameras, and neon signs stating they're open 24 hours a day. Many are concentrated in one area
While many of the victims of human trafficking are brought to the United States slaves, some of those who become victims are undocumented immigrants. According to the report there are undocumented immigrants who may be forced into prostitution or forced into other work to pay off a debt from being smuggled across the border. Also, teenage runaways are susceptible to falling victim to human trafficking; traffickers will recruit young women by providing security, affection, and generosity before they commercializing their victims.
How bad is the human trafficking problem in Houston? The largest human trafficking case in the history of the continental United States took place in Houston: US vs. Mondragon, over 100 women rescued after being forced into labor. The alternative newspaper Houston Press recently reported on the prosecution of human traffickers for including sex trafficking of children, sex trafficking by force and the transportation and coercion of minors.
According to statistics compiled by the Polaris Project, throughout the world 27 million people are affected by the modern day slavery that is human trafficking and 800,000 are trafficked across international borders every year. Of the victims approximately 80% are female, 50% are children, and 70% are forced into prostitution. The total yearly profits generated from human trafficking are $32 billion.
Human trafficking is going to remain a significant problem because despite the startling statistics the problem of modern day slavery has not received significant media coverage. Because the victims are so often immigrants, and many times undocumented immigrants, it is easy for people to remain ambivalent about the problem. Over 140 years after slavery was ended in Texas on June 19th a modern day slavery continues.