HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Sex trafficking increases in Houston any time the city hosts a large event, according to city officials.
This week, the Offshore Technology Conference is in town, and police have announced that they'll be out in full force.
Houston police and Harris County Sheriff's Office deputies said they have online postings as well as hotel rooms set up to catch these predators.
Local law enforcement is working with anti-sex trafficking groups to spread awareness, warning people about sex trafficking and its consequences.
“One of the things that Houston police are doing right now is to have decoy officers out on the street, so if a man propositions a woman, is he propositioning a prostitute or police officer? You won't know until the handcuffs go on,” Captain Dan Harris of the Houston Police Department.
Any time a large event brings thousands of people into the city, sex trafficking goes up.
Police said traffickers see the crowds as an opportunity to make money.
Teenage girls are specifically recruited and trafficked in to meet the demand from buyers.
“We work with teenagers. Teenage girls that are being trafficked right here in this city. The average age of a girl being trafficked occurs between the ages of 12 to 14 years old,” Julie Waters of Free the Captives, an anti-sex trafficking organization.
Because the OTC is in town this week, officials from the Harris County Sheriff's Office and the Houston Police Department are working with anti-sex trafficking organizations like Free the Captives and The Courage Coalition to spread awareness. The group is handing out awareness flyers to conference attendees and to people attending Tuesday night’s Astros game.
“We want men to understand the results of their actions, that actions have consequences, to clearly understand that promoting the devastation of people's lives…maybe they might think twice,” said Jim White of the Courage Coalition, an anti-sex trafficking organization aimed at educating men.
Advocates said the consequences are brutal, and men may not think twice about it.
“I was called and had to work with a 15-year-old girl that was specifically brought to Houston for the OTC, and she was being trafficked, and she was crying, and the only thing she kept telling me over and over again was she wanted her mom,” said Waters.
If you’d like to help fight sex-trafficking in Houston, check out http://www.freethecaptiveshouston.com.