Hotline Identifies 670 Human Trafficking Cases in Texas for 2016
SAN ANGELO, TX - Human trafficking is one of the most heinous and profitable crimes in the world. Polaris, an organization dedicated to fight trafficking, estimates that there are 20.9 million victims overall. To help battle this crime in the Unites States, the National Human Trafficking Hotline helps victims, and, because of this hotline, 670 cases were officially identified in Texas in 2016.
The National Hotline provides year-round assistance for anyone who would like to report any suspicion of trafficking in her or his area. In Texas alone 2,135 calls were made in 2016 to report possible cases of trafficking, or to learn more about the subject. With such a high number of tips given annually, Texas places number two in the list of states with the highest number of calls. This does not mean that the state has a higher number of trafficked victims, but rather that law enforcement and organizations have done an excellent job of teaching the public how to report the cases, said Vanessa Chauhan, Strategic Relationship and Engagement Advisor at Polaris.
“I think that [high call volumes] is a great testament of all the work just to raise awareness of the hotline that is being done in the state,” she said.
Of the 670 cases, there were 473 instances in which victims were forced into sex trafficking, 121 into labor trafficking, and 45 were not specified. Twenty-one people were victims of both sex and labor trafficking.
Often times, when individuals call the hotline to give a tip, they have reason to suspect someone is being trafficked, but they don't have specific details or proof of certain activities taking place. Also, the case number does not represent the victims rescued, but rather the number of operations in which victims were rescued from.
Since the National Human Trafficking Hotline began tracking and documenting calls and tips in December of 2007, the organization has attended to 12,330 calls, which resulted in 2,939 cases since that date. Of those cases, 3,950 victims came from moderate level indicators environments.
Moderate levels refer to the information provided by callers that indicate the situation they observed, or are wondering about, has certain indicators that trafficking might be occurring. In that same timeframe, 3,751 victims were rescued from high indictor environments, which have more obvious signs.
In the year 2016, 859 victims came from high indicator environments, 904 from moderate environments and 468 were victims and survivors who called the hotline.
Individuals trafficked for sex are often forced to engage in commercial-front brothels, hotel or motel based businesses, online ads, residential brothels and escort services. Of the cases discovered, 547 included females, 99 included males and nine included members of gender minorities. These statistics are non-cumulative, and cases can involve multiple victims and include males and females or other gender identifications.
In regards to age, 441 adults were part of the 2016 cases, and 228 were minors. The information displayed on the National Hotline’s website show the demographics described by the cases, not an exact number regarding the victims' information. This is to protect the identity of the rescued victims. The demographics provided are intended to show the public the tendencies and patterns that traffickers may follow.
There are several clues and signs the general public can look out for and help stop this horrendous crime from reoccurring. Here are a few of the tips Polaris recommends.
“Be vigilant about their surroundings and be on the lookout for things that look out of the ordinary.” Chauhan said.
“Human trafficking is happening here in the United States. It’s affecting U.S. citizens living here in the United States,” Chauhan said. “It affects all populations and all demographics, and it is a horrible crime that is perpetuated against humanity.”
The National Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached at 1-888-373-7888. This line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can offer services in more than 200 languages. Online tips can be submitted following this link on humantraffickinghotline.org or by texting HELP to 233733(BEFREE). The texting hotline is in service from 3:00 to 11:00 pm EST.