A new statewide campaign using billboards and public service announcements targets human traffickers in Texas.
United Against Human Trafficking is a partnership between the FBI, state and local officials aimed to stop modern day slavery.
Bradley Myles at the Polaris Project says human trafficking has become a $150 billion criminal enterprise worldwide.
“We hear about Asian sex trafficking in illicit massage parlors, we hear about these Latino cases in cantinas, we hear about pimps finding heroin-addicted women and forcing them into the sex trade,” Myles said Tuesday.
Because Houston tops the nation for human trafficking, and Texas ranks second only to California for the number of reported cases, Governor Rick Perry was in town to help launch the campaign.
“It is reminding everyone that there is a real and a present danger in this country dealing with sexual trafficking,” said Perry.
DPS director Steve McGraw says it will take a coordinate effort to eliminate the problem.
“There's no question there is insatiable demand for underaged sex, and its sickening and frightening, and we need the public's help,” he says.
Clear Channel Outdoor donated billboards in 15 Texas markets featuring a hotline to report human trafficking, also the FBI's most wanted list of Texas human traffickers.
The company's Suzanne Grimes says similar efforts already have proven to work in San Francisco.
“There was a young woman who saw the phone number on the side of a bus shelter,” said Grimes. “She had the courage to place the call and an organization called the Bay Area Women Against Rape was there to help her and bring her to safety.”