HOUSTON - A study by a nonprofit research and advocacy group says more than 16,000 students in Harris County attend school within 1,000 feet of suspected illegal massage businesses.
The organization Children at Risk has mapped out the locations of locations it identified as suspected illegal massage businesses. The organization calls these businesses fronts for human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
The locations listed on the map have not been identified by law enforcement, nor have these claims verified by KPRC2.
In the state, more than 35,000 children across Texas attend public schools that are within 1,000 feet of a suspected illegal massage business, including over 4,000 pre-K and kindergarten students, according to the Children at Risk analysis.
Using data from an illicit massage review website, RubMaps.com, Children at Risk says it identified 689 massage establishments in Texas that are suspected of illegally offering sexual services to customers. In Harris County there are 259 of those businesses, according to Children at Risk.
In Harris County, the organization notes there are 23 schools within 1,000 feet of these establishments, including Poe Elementary, Shadowbriar Elementary, Brookside Intermediate, Wharton K-8 Dual Language Academy, Sheridan Elementary and Stratford High School.
In Harris County, Children at Risk says the suspected illegal massage businesses are concentrated in wealthy neighborhoods. On average, median incomes in these neighborhoods are $7,000 higher than those without one.
"As a whole in our city, we have a significant problem when it comes to trafficking and this is a part of it and this is a very visible part of it that needs to shut down. We have been working hand-in-hand with law enforcement and the prosecutor's office to really go after these places. Obviously, we need more pressure from the public, more support to say we're gonna shut down these places," said Robert Sanborn, president and CEO of Children at Risk.
"Many times people say Houston is a hub for trafficking," Sanborn said. "The fact of the matter is that there's a lot of trafficking going on in Houston. There's a lot of trafficking going on in Texas, but we would not have this if we didn't have men who were using their money to buy these women."
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