HOUSTON - For the first time, city leaders have come up with a comprehensive plan to prevent human trafficking from happening in Houston.
Mayor Sylvester Turner stood with City and County leaders to explain how they are addressing a problem Monday.
“Over the past few years, our human trafficking section has handled well over 1,000 cases. The common theme we have found is these victims are vulnerable regardless of background, age or gender,” said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson.
Since victims rarely come forward on their own, the City is starting by teaching others what to look for. They’re working with public and private individuals who may come in contact with victims of the sex trade and labor trafficking.
“To address this, we are training the city health department employees, who inspect Houston’s 13,000 food establishments on what to look for regarding human trafficking,” said Turner.
The City is also teaming up with taxi companies.
Melissa McGehee, with Yellow Cab Houston, said they’ve already started educating drivers through text and email blasts.
“The flyers include victim indicators and known areas in City where drivers can be extra vigilant,” said McGehee. “Just recently during OTC, over 9,000 text blasts and nearly 4,000 emails were sent out to our active drivers. We’ll continue to do that during major events.”
The efforts will ramp up for the Super Bowl in February. However, officials said they will continue the initiative long after.
“We’re going to put an end to this concept of “boys will be boys” and protect the victims of human trafficking, rescue them, and restore them,” said Congressman Ted Poe.
For more information about Houston’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategic Plan, visit www.humantraffickinghouston.org.