The activities described below reflect the OAG’s multi-faceted approach to combat trafficking:
- Since its inception, HTTOC has resolved 20 cases, resulting in 463 years in prison sentences for human traffickers. HTTOC is currently involved in 18 human trafficking cases pending across the state and 12 ongoing human trafficking investigations.
- With original jurisdiction, the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 140A.052 authorizes the OAG to investigate and pursue civil litigation against sex and labor traffickers and those profiting from these ventures.
- Landlord Engagement Program: HTTOC partners with cities, counties, and local law enforcement to educate and empower landlords leasing to illicit massage business to combat the proliferation of illicit massage businesses in Texas.
- Collaborates with regional and local anti-trafficking taskforces, coalitions, and statewide partners (Office of the Texas Governor, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, Texas Education Agency, Texas Department of Transportation, etc.) to develop anti-trafficking programs.
- Trains law enforcement, prosecutors, community partners, educators, and business organizations in human trafficking prevention and awareness.
- Conducted more than 300 in-person and 6 virtual trainings for over 28,000 people and produced the Be the One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking (Be the One) video as a documentary training tool to equip all state employees and the general public. This video has been viewed over 144,000 times online in 49 states and 131 countries.
- Led a three-day citywide immersive training in Beaumont attended by 600+ community members.
- Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force: Texas Government Code § 402.035 (2009). HTTOC chairs the Task Force, which is made up of over 50 member organizations. The Task Force collects data, provides training, and develops and reports to the Legislature legislative recommendations that will enhance the state’s efforts to combat human trafficking.
- Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Coordinating Council: Texas Government Code § 402.034 (2019). HTTOC also leads the Coordinating Council, which consists of 9 state agencies tasked with evaluating and coordinating state efforts to fight human trafficking in Texas. In March 2020, HTTOC led the Coordinating Council in conducting a comprehensive statewide survey to collect data from primary human trafficking stakeholders. With that information, in May 2020, the Coordinating Council published Texas’s first strategic plan for preventing human trafficking in Texas to the Legislature.
- Texas Human Trafficking Data Collection: Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 2.305 (2019). In August 2020, pursuant to H.B. 3800, 86th Legislature, Regular Session, 2019, HTTOC collected human trafficking case and investigation data from DPS and every state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial office in the top 12 largest counties in Texas. This serves as Texas’s first centralized human trafficking data collection system. With funding, the data collection has the potential to (1) create a real-time, statewide information sharing system to help law enforcement identify victims and generate more proactive human trafficking investigations; and (2) accurately track human trafficking activity to better quantify the types and volume of human trafficking in Texas.
Strategic Partnerships in the Trafficking Fight
- Partner with trafficking survivors for outreach and policy development.
- Partner with universities for H.B. 3800.
- Engage with federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutors to build effective human trafficking responses across Texas.
- Collaborate on human trafficking outreach and prosecution with OOG’s Border Prosecution Unit.
- Build relationships with existing human trafficking taskforces and develop new taskforces in Central, East, and West Texas.
- Continue to partner with TxDOT to develop signs to be placed in transportation hubs in accordance with S.B. 1219, 86th Legislature, Regular Session, 2019.
- Collaborate with various state agencies to identify and target businesses engaged in or profiting from trafficking.
Plan to Combat Trafficking
- Prosecute Traffickers: Continue to develop relationships and partner with DAs, U.S. Attorney’s Offices and regional trafficking taskforces to provide trafficking subject matter expertise in investigations and prosecutions. Support and develop new law enforcement focused trafficking task forces in Austin, East and West Texas.
- Support Prosecutors and Law Enforcement: In January of 2021, HTTOC will launch the HT Blue Line, a 24/7 HTTOC attorney help line to provide investigative and prosecution support for local, state and federal law enforcement and prosecutors throughout Texas.
- Train and Collaborate to Raise Awareness: Increase public awareness and continue to educate law enforcement, prosecutors, businesses, and the community on trafficking virtually and in-person.
- Collect and Share Trafficking Intelligence: Develop a statewide law enforcement information-sharing platform to connect investigators across the state to accurately track human trafficking activity from initial report, to investigation, to prosecution.
- Collect and Analyze Human Trafficking Data: Collect statewide human trafficking data (pursuant to H.B. 3800) that, with the proper database and software, will lead to meaningful trafficking data for Texas.
- Create Victim Service Online Platform: Using a digital resource guide, create a comprehensive online compilation of victim service providers in Texas to help connect victims to needed services.
In addition to HTTOC, the OAG’s Crime Victim Services Division and Law Enforcement Division aid in the fight against human trafficking.
- The Crime Victim Services Division (CVSD) assists victims of human trafficking in several ways. The Crime Victims’ Compensation Program provides reimbursements for crime-related expenses, such as medical costs, rent and relocation expenses, loss of wages, and counseling. The Address Confidentiality Program provides a substitute post office box for victims of certain violent crimes, including human trafficking, and mail forwarding services to increase victim security. CVSD is also instrumental in providing grants to counties to fund positions, such as crime victim coordinators and crime victim liaisons. Grants are also awarded to rape crisis centers.
- The Law Enforcement Division’s Human Trafficking Unit investigates adult and child sex and labor trafficking and presents cases for prosecution in state and federal courts. The Child Exploitation Unit serves as the Southern Texas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, investigating child pornography and online solicitation cases across South Texas. In addition, the Digital Forensics Unit supports both these units and preserves evidence collected from digital storage devices such as phones, tablets, and computer systems.