Human trafficking is one of the less talked-about issues happening in the United States, but it is one of the most important.

According to the International Labour Organization, more than 40 million people are victims of human trafficking around the world.

Texas is the second worst state for human trafficking, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline.

This problem is happening right here in Tarrant County as well.

Last Sept., the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the Fort Worth Police Department has investigated 38 human trafficking cases this year and 53 “semi-identified” victims were rescued.
I attended a panel on sex trafficking on Oct. 1 hosted by Albert Roberts, a former assitant district attorney. What I learned from both panelists and audience members was appalling.

One of the major issues that there are not enough people working on this problem in Tarrant County, as it is not being taken seriously by elected officials.

According to the Fort Worth Police Department website, the Human Trafficking Unit consists of only an officer, a detective and a civilian program coordinator.

A retired FWPD officer who attended the panel said that the officer in the unit receives between 200 and 300 tips from callers a day.

By contrast, Dallas County and the city of Houston have acted against human trafficking, according to panelist Christie Messenger, and Tarrant County needs to take note.

She said Dallas County has prosecutors assigned to handle human trafficking cases, and Houston has 35 people, including federal officers, investigating human trafficking cases.

Messenger, an advocate for criminal justice reform, said the FWPD has 30 cases on record since Jan. 1, 2017 with more than 70 cases to date, and has collaborated with both federal and state agencies as well as non-profit groups.

There has not been a single human trafficking case prosecuted in Tarrant County, she said.

Tarrant County needs more people assigned to work these cases. We need a prosecutor dedicated to this issue and more resources need to be provided to the police department.

Texas Wesleyan graduate Rebekah Charleston was one of the panelists who spoke. A survivor of sex trafficking for 10 years in DFW, she told her story, including how she got out. Many victims do not get that chance before it is too late.

Charleston said that many people think that sex trafficking is happening in the outside world and not here, but that is not true. As a member of this community, I am demanding that more is done about this issue from Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson, the Fort Worth City Council and my state representatives because the safety of my classmates, my friends, my family and myself depends on it.

If someone is a victim of human trafficking or they suspect someone they know is, please report it to the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office Human Trafficking Unit by calling 817-884-2941 or by email at humantrafficking@tarrantcounty.com.

People can also contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

Rebekah Charleston (far left), a sex trafficking survivor and Wesleyan alum, shared her story at a panel held Oct. 1 hosted by Albert Roberts (far right), a former assistant district attorney.
Photo by Hannah Lathen

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Hannah Lathen

Underneath the heap of curls on Hannah Lathen’s head is a person who seeks to change the world. She might just seem like a soul living inside a body, but her collection of 50+ skulls proves she is much, much more.

Hannah, a Fort Worth native, uses writing to vocalize the issues she finds important. If Hannah is not out interviewing, you can probably catch her protesting unprogressive ideals. Hannah loves journalism, because she feels it is a necessary component of society. She also believes people should have access to what is happening in the world.

Hannah enjoys staying involved in the community. She is finishing up her last semester at Texas Wesleyan and will get her degree in mass communication in May. She came to Wesleyan in fall 2017 and has worked at The Rambler as a content producer ever since.

Hannah is currently the Communications Director for El Voto Es Latino and plans to stay involved with local politics after she graduates.

Her motto is “Question everything and seek awareness.”

1 Comment

  1. November 14, 2018 at 5:30 pm — Reply

    I’m old now and seemingly forgotten. I hope someday you people will actually have the guts to do something. Victims are not likely to come forward. There belittled and usually have emotional problems.

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