FORT BEND COUNTY – Fort Bend County law enforcement officials held a news conference Monday morning focused on a particular crime they say has proven to take place anywhere.
“It’s not just certain areas where you will find human trafficking existing,” said Brian Middelton, District Attorney for Fort Bend County.
Officials revealed Sugar Land and Meadows Place were the sites for two recent undercover programs.
“We had two different operations, one was operations Heatwave and the other was Operations Saphhire,” said Mark Hanna, the Chief of the Special Crimes Division for the Fort Bend District Attorney’s Office.
A total of 26 people were arrested in two initiatives carried out in August and September.
In Sugar Land, the focus was on men buying sex.
In Meadows Place, it was a rescue operation where sex trafficking victims were met with assistance instead of handcuffs, where 17 victims, including one juvenile, were identified, according to officials.
Another victim law enforcement encountered was an adult male.
“Human Trafficking does not discriminate, it can be any sex, any age,” said Hanna.
Often times sex trafficking victims are girls or women who are trapped, paralyzed with fear, but however, Bliss Thornton, a director with the YMCA of Greater Houston, says they do often times come across male victims.
The YMCA is one of several organizations in the area that provide assistance to all victims. The support ranges from emotional support to assistance during the legal process of prosecuting these cases.
Fort Bend County Officials believe the intervention assistance provided by the YMCA and others makes a difference.
“Extremely pivotal,” said Hanna, who also said they are there offering invaluable assistance at perhaps the lowest moment in a victim’s life.