Seventy-five people were arrested in a human trafficking sting by multiple law enforcement agencies in Montgomery County, Texas. Those arrested include 32 men, 11 of whom are pimps, and 28 woman, with some of the women in possession of controlled substances and/or handguns.
Law enforcement officials rescued five trafficked individuals, including one minor.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office released details about “Operation Cross County” in which numerous law enforcement agencies worked together to catch a human trafficking and prostitution ring in the Woodlands, Texas, area.
Agencies working with sheriff’s office were the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Houston Police Department, Conroe Police Department, Montgomery County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office, the Department of Public Safety, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Attorney General’s Office, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. State Department.
According to Lt. Tim Cannon, the sting ran from Oct. 15-30 during which undercover agents posed as sex workers and pimps. “It was created to actively oppress sexual exploitation and human trafficking in and around Montgomery County,” Cannon said at a press conference. “We also focused on possible victims and underage person who might have been involved as well. These concerns have been brought to light through law enforcement investigations and citizens’ complaints.
“Many persons in this illicit industry are forced into trafficking themselves by other through force, fraud or coercion.”
Sheriff Rand Henderson explained that what was traditionally understood as prostitution evolved into human trafficking, which has changed how investigators operate stings.
“While we netted 75 arrests, I think identifying the true victims is what made this worthwhile,” Henderson said. “We are really proud of the work done and they deserve all the credit. We also want to send a message that we are not going to put up with kind of activity not just in Montgomery County, but this entire region.”
Special Agent Lt. Theo Williams with Federal Bureau of Investigation in Houston explained that help from the public is vital. He said,
“Your tips, your information is something that helps us out greatly. We can’t do it without you. We need more public participation to help us fight human trafficking not only in Montgomery County and around the county.”
Special Crimes Bureau Chief Tyler Dunman with the Montgomery County DA’s office said human trafficking is a serious issue in Montgomery County and hoped to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“I stand with the sheriff and I know District Attorney Brett Ligon does too, that when you are arrested in an operation like this you will face a stiff penalty in Montgomery County on behalf of the DA’s office,” he said. “We are looking forward to presenting those cases to a Montgomery County jury and allowing punishment to take place at that time.”