Today, on behalf of Attorney General Ken Paxton and the Office of the Attorney General, First Assistant Attorney General Jeff Mateer testified before a legislative panel at the Texas Capitol, seeking an increase in funding to combat both human trafficking and election fraud across Texas.
The OAG’s Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime Section was created in 2016. Since then, nineteen trafficking cases have been resolved resulting in 190 years’ worth of prison sentences for human traffickers, and twenty-one trafficking cases are currently pending in seven different counties. The OAG’s Human Trafficking Section assisted in shutting down Backpage.com, the United States’ single largest purveyor of escort ads and a major facilitator of sex trafficking, in 92 countries. This Section provides invaluable assistance to local and state law enforcement, district attorneys, members of the public and victims of human trafficking. OAG prosecutors have conducted over 250 in-person trainings on human trafficking for more than 20,000 people across the state, including six coalition builds with Truckers Against Trafficking and the Texas Trucking Association. The OAG human trafficking training film, “Be the One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking,” has been viewed in 48 states beyond Texas, and thousands of DVDs have been requested.
Since its creation in 2016, the OAG has seen a 600-percent increase in the number of cases handled by the Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime Section. The OAG is requesting $2.8 million dollars and thirteen additional employees to continue the commitment to inform, educate, and empower Texans to prevent and report human trafficking, while prosecuting the traffickers. Saving victims of human trafficking and bringing criminals like those involved with Backpage.com to justice is a top priority for Attorney General Paxton and his office.
“My office seeks to increase its resources and ability to hire highly skilled attorneys and investigators to combat crimes against human rights and the Constitution. We have succeeded in both stopping and preventing criminals from hurting our people and processes, but these crimes have unfortunately become more frequent and well-hidden,” Attorney General Paxton has said. “We must now allow our brave men and women on the front lines to strengthen their fight by accessing additional resources. As these crimes increase, so should our ability to stop them.”
Combatting election fraud is another top priority for Attorney General Paxton. To ensure that the cornerstone of our democracy, the election process, is protected by investigating and prosecuting ever-increasing allegations of voter fraud, the OAG also requested an increase in funding and employees toward this effort. Election fraud cases are notoriously complex and can involve thousands of pages of documents, dozens of witnesses, and multiple defendants. Between 2005-2017, only 93 voter fraud cases were prosecuted by the state of Texas. In the past year alone, Attorney General Paxton’s office prosecuted 87 counts of voting violations with only two attorneys and four investigators. In addition to receiving referrals for cases from the Secretary of State, the OAG also proactively looks into instances of illegal votes and election fraud. Given the consistent increase in these cases, the OAG expects caseloads to increase to 18 cases per investigator and between 37-74 cases per Assistant Attorney General in the Election Fraud Unit.