HOUSTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Houston, Texas, and the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday the results of an operation targeting sex trafficking in Fort Bend County, Texas.
The operation dubbed “Operation Patriot” targeted sex trafficking organizations and sex buyers from Sept. 9 – 16.
Forty-six individuals were arrested as a result of the operation, including six arrests for promotion of prostitution, 40 arrests for prostitution and six arrests for narcotics.
HSI Houston Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Mary Magness explained why it is critical to target both the trafficking organizations and the sex buyers.
“What we often find is if you only eliminate the supply-side of sex trafficking, another criminal organization will move in to fulfill the demand,” explained ASAC Magness. “So we simultaneously target both the organizations behind the sex trafficking and the people who support it, to more effectively eradicate this vile criminal activity from the community.”
In addition to the 46 criminal arrests, HSI Houston and local law enforcement rescued five victims. HSI employs a victim-centered approach to combat human trafficking, which places equal importance on the identification and stabilization of victims, as the identification and prosecution of traffickers.
“Sex traffickers often rely on physical and sexual abuse, threats of harm, economic and psychological manipulation, and cruelty to force their victims to engage in commercial sex,” said ASAC Magness. “To better confront these realities of human trafficking, we integrate trauma-informed victim support services throughout our criminal investigation.”
Other agencies involved in the operation included: the Department of Family & Protective Services; Department of Public Safety; DeliverFund; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office; Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office; Fort Bend County Precinct 1 Constable’s Office; Fort Bend County Precinct 2 Constable’s Office; Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office; Galveston County District Attorney’s Office; Harris County District Attorney’s Office; Harris County Precinct 5 Constable’s Office; Harris County Sheriff’s Office; Houston Police Department; Missouri City Police Department; Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office; Office of the Texas Attorney General; Stafford Police Department; Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission; Texas Forensic Nurse Examiners; and the YMCA – International.
HSI Houston is a partner in the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA) for the Southern District of Texas. The HTRA is a multidisciplinary human trafficking task force that implements collaborative approaches to combat all forms of human trafficking in the Southern District of Texas.
In FY 2019, HSI Houston, working in conjunction with the HTRA, arrested 205 individuals for human trafficking-related offenses, which accounted for approximately 10% of all human trafficking-related arrests in the U.S.