The sex industry evolves at a rapid pace, and as sex trafficking and its offshoots change, laws and statistics change with them. Keep reading for updated information about sex trafficking here in Texas!
Over last few years, federal agencies have reported that Dallas-Fort Worth is one of the busiest hubs in the nation for trafficking, and Texas is second highest state for sex trafficking in the U.S. after California with an estimated 300,000 victims statewide every year.
Industry Revenue: In a report by the Urban Institute and New Friends New Life (a local non-profit that serves survivors), around 400 teens are sold every night for sex as part of the $99 million trafficking industry.
Homeless Youth & Runaways: According to the city of Dallas, over half of all trafficking victims were initially youth runaways, and Dallas is home to nearly 3,400 homeless youth. It’s estimated that 1 out of 3 teens approached by sex traffickers within 48 hours of leaving home.
Not Just Runaways: Trafficking also occurs with teens/children in suburbs. A trafficking ring was discovered in the Far North Dallas/Carrollton area in 2016.
State of Texas passed a number of anti-trafficking laws in legislative session last year, and the Dallas City Council is also attempting to crack down on trafficking.
High Trafficked Areas: Harry Hines, Walnut Hill, certain other zones known to have higher instances of prostitution and trafficking. Last year Dallas passed “no-cruising” ordinance with “cruising” defined as a driver passing through “the same traffic control point within a no cruising zone three times within any two-hour period.” A person can be ticketed up to $500 for cruising in one of these zones.
Illicit Massage Business (Unlicensed Reflexology): One growing issue is that businesses claiming to offer massage and reflexology services often serve as fronts for trafficking. In the past year or so, the Dallas Police Department (DPD) has arrested 38 people and rescued approximately 50 victims connected with investigations into massage businesses.
At this point, state laws are not very restrictive about this particular issue. The issue was raised, but it was a missed opportunity last session.
City council member Cara Mendehlson is spearheading an effort to change city code by requiring reflexology businesses to be licensed and therefore regulated. She also believes that deputizing officers from the DPD and code compliance officers would be helpful. That way, they can proactively conduct inspections and hold business owners accountable. Houston does this and has seen a decrease in trafficking activity at illicit massage businesses.
Strip Clubs: Dallas city council recently voted unanimously to require sexually oriented businesses to close from 2 to 6 a.m. in an effort to curb violent crime and human trafficking based on statistics provided by Chief Garcia and the DPD. However, Dallas Association of Club Executives sued the city over the ordinance. A judge has placed a temporary injunction (meaning essentially a delay of the ordinance going into effect) and is requiring the city to present additional evidence linking violent crime to sexually oriented businesses. The suit is ongoing so the ordinance is currently not in effect.