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'In plain sight': Sex-trafficking sting nets 64 arrests in one Texas county

At least five adults and two juveniles were rescued from sex trafficking in the multi-agency sweep.

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — An unnamed "active law enforcement officer" is among 64 people arrested in a human trafficking sweep in Fort Bend County, county officials said.

At least five adults and two juveniles, who are U.S. citizens from the Fort Bend County area, were rescued from sex trafficking in the multi-agency sweep that brought together the Fort Bend County Constable’s Office Precinct and the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office, along with the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance member law enforcement agencies.

This marks the first time in Fort Bend County history that a constable's office has taken an active role in enforcing human trafficking laws," Pct. 3 Constable Wayne Thompson said.

The sweep -- dubbed "Operation Freedom" -- took place during a three-week period in July.

“The investigating of human trafficking is very time consuming, the perpetrators are very sophisticated,” Fort Bend County District Attorney Bryan Middleton said during Friday morning’s press conference. “It requires a lot of work, and a lot of effort to investigate and prosecute these crimes.”

Charges filed over the course of this operation included promotion of prostitution, compelling prostitution, various narcotics charges, evading, fraud, forgery and failure to identify.

"Human trafficking routinely happens in plain sight, it affects all demographic levels, races, religions, and social economic levels," Middleton said. "It's not just a city problem."

At least four "criminal gang members" were also among the 64 people arrested in the sweep, Thompson said in a statement issued Tuesday evening.

Lead prosecutor Jenna Rudoff says two juveniles, between the ages of 15 to 17, were rescued as part of the operation. With the help of non-profits, they were able to be provided with services like medical care and housing for relocation.

“The grooming process, the recruiting process happens on social media. It happens on Instagram, it happens on Facebook, it happens on KIK messenger, it happens on Whats App,” Rudoff said. “I can’t even begin to name the number of apps that these individuals are targeting.”

Rudoff added that sex traffickers do not discriminate.

“Our victims are not of one social class, they’re not of one nationality, they’re not of one demographic. They come from two parent households, one parent household, educated household, blue-collar household, they come from all kinds of backgrounds,” she said.

They are being targeted and recruited through social media. This happens in plain sight.


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