EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO) – Texas ranks second in the nation in human trafficking cases; according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office continues working towards eliminating human exploitation in the Rio Grande Valley where they say it’s a growing problem.
In 2018, over a thousand human trafficking cases were reported in Texas. Over 700 of those were sex trafficking. The majority taking place in illicit massage and spa businesses.
“Individuals who are taken advantage of in the sense of labor, whether it be in the field, whether it be in a construction site, whether it be in a restaurant. There’s individuals today that exist that are being taken advantage of because of their status. Because they feel like they don’t have anyone that will be a voice for them.”
Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez says cases of human smuggling most often turns into human trafficking in the Valley, due to the proximity to the border. This year, Rodriguez aims to increase labor trafficking prosecutions.
“There are victims today that are afraid to come forward and everyday whether it’s domestic violence, whether it’s human trafficking. Whatever the case maybe we don’t want them to be afraid. We’re not their enemy.” Says Rodriguez.
The Commissioners Court proclaimed July 30th as World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. Earlier this year, the district attorney’s office opened a specialized unit conducting investigations. Not just for agricultural workers but also in construction sites, warehouses, and factories.
Rodriguez tells says since the Human Trafficking Unit started there has been numerous amounts of cases in the county being investigated. He urges those being exploited to speak up.
Officials urge you to report anyone involved in human trafficking to the national human trafficking hotline. That number is (888) 373-7888.