HOUSTON – The so-called Bissonnet Track is in the news consistently for its ties to prostitution, human trafficking and more.
Here’s a more expansive look at what the Bissonnet Track is, its history and efforts from law enforcement and local organizations to address issues in the area.
What is it?
“The Bissonnet Track” or “Track” or “The Blade” are all the same thing -- an infamous area in southwest Houston known for its gritty and forward prostitution activity.
The area is a 1.3-mile stretch along Bissonnet between the Southwest Freeway and Sam Houston Parkway/Beltway 8. The area is known as an international hub for prostitution and human trafficking.
Officials have noted that prostitutes, pimps and Johns openly mix in the area, which is filled with restaurants, businesses and schools. In 2017, The Bissonnet Track was No. 1 on a list of top area hotspots for prostitution.
While the origins of the Bissonnet Track are shadowy and ill-defined, KPRC 2 has covered issues in this area for at least the last 25 years.
KPRC 2′s Robert Arnold recalled his coverage over the years, saying that the concentration of motels, side streets and easy access to the highway have likely been a factor in the staying power and prominence of this district.
Inside efforts to address ‘The Track,’ from closing down streets to proposed injunctions
Over the years, many in law enforcement have tried a number of strategies to attempt to curb the prostitution and human trafficking in the area. Here are just some of the recent efforts attempted to diminish illegal activity in the area:
- In 2023, Houston police officers started temporarily blocking off two streets every night in an effort to deter criminal activity. The streets of Plainfield and Center Parkway, between Bissonnet and the Southwest Freeway, have been closed. When those streets are opened, police said it creates a loop for those who are working in the area to circle around.
- KPRC 2 Investigates reported in 2023 that the program is currently being funded from the Houston Police Department’s budget and has no set expiration date.
- Houston police began using the law to crack down on those paying for sex.
- In August 2021, signs were placed to warn people that paying for sex would become a felony in Texas. On Sept. 1, 2021, Texas became the first state to make paying for sex a felony. HPD’s Vice Division Comdr. Jessica Anderson told KPRC 2 that she believes tougher penalties will help target what is fueling the sex trade.
- In 2021, Houston Police Department records showed 37% of prostitution arrests were in southwest Houston, and most of those were on the Bissonnet Track.
- In 2018, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said an injunction was filed against 86 people who have been arrested in connection with prostitution and human trafficking crimes along the “Bissonnet Track.” The defendants named in the suit are forbidden from entering the area or face contempt of court charges. In 2021, 36 suspects were removed from the proposed prostitution injunction.
Help if you’re a victim
- To get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733), Chat Online: Human Trafficking Hotline Web Chat
If you want to report human trafficking
- To report suspected human trafficking to federal law enforcement: 1-866-347-2423
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