DALLAS — Authorities on Monday announced the arrests of two woman involved in a human trafficking ring in Dallas, where the victims were allegedly lured through the internet and promised jobs.
Dallas police said the department and agents from Homeland Security executed a search warrant at an apartment in the 5900 block of Arapaho Road on Jan. 28.
According to police, the warrant came after two victims came forward to authorities, saying they "were forced into prostitution."
"We had two victims that were brave enough to come forward and tell their story about being forced. It is never easy to have someone sit down and talk about some of the worst moments of their lives," Dallas Police Lt. Lisette Rivera said during a news conference on Monday.
The Jan. 28 operation led to the arrests of two women, 38-year-old Arely Lopez-Guzman and 38-year-old Fabiola Cardenas, for compelling prostitution and trafficking of persons, police said.
Police said five females were found at that apartment and that one other victim came forward.
During the Monday news conference, police said the victims who came forward were from Latin American countries who were lured over the internet and promised jobs.
"There are people out there that will take advantage of those that are the most vulnerable. Those that have food insecurities, housing insecurities, there are people out there looking for jobs and people will take advantage of that," Rivera said.
According to FBI statistics, the Dallas-Fort Worth area is number two in the nation when it comes to human trafficking in the U.S., due to Interstate 35 stretching from southern Texas to North Texas, making Dallas a corridor.
"So now we have these victims treated as a commodity, and they’re sold and they’re traded and moved across legal jurisdictions, all of them against their will," said Timothy Bray of UT Dallas Urban Policy Research.
Dallas police and the University of Texas at Dallas are teaming up to study the human trafficking issue and are interviewing victims, community leaders, advocates and business owners to tackle the problem, like they did with domestic violence.
"This is much more pervasive than most of us know about and in much the same way as domestic violence was sort of a closeted crime for a very long time and we didn’t know about it," Bray said. "If we didn’t know about it, we didn’t talk about it and we’re beginning to see that tide shift with human trafficking as well."
Dallas police said this recent operation is just one of many that the department is working on.