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Governor Perry, Mayor Parker, and Clear Channel join to fight human trafficking

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At a press conference in the rotunda of Houston City Hall Tuesday, June 3, Texas Governor Rick Perry, joined Congressman Ted Poe and Houston Mayor Annise Parker, over 3 dozen elected and appointed officials, and Suzanne Grimes of Clear Channel Radio to launch a new phase in the fight against human trafficking.

Governor Perry thanked the state legislature for its assistance in enacting new laws that give Texas law enforcement agencies more tools in prosecuting criminals and exempting children from charges of prostitution.Mayor Parker underscored the fact that the growth of human trafficking is its profitability. Some estimate that the industry represents as much as $150 billion worldwide.

Congressman Ted Poe (R-Tx 2) pointed out that traffickers have become bolder than ever, actually branding their victims, and in one case, using bar codes to identify them as his property. Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Carlos J. Barron adressed his remarks in English and Spanish. He named the three most wanted fugitives accused of trafficking and urged victims to call, assuring victims that their goal is to help and not to prosecute them.

Human trafficking, essentially modern day slavery, is illegal at all levels of government and in most countries. The victims may be US citizens or foreign nationals lured here under false pretenses. They may be children or adults of either sex. They may be forced to work without pay, serve as prostitutes or solicit money. Some are sequestered in homes or businesses, and kept under strict surveillance. However, in recent years, state laws have been strengthened. In addition, law enforcement units have dedicated specialized teams.

Nevertheless, all law enforcement agencies agree that public awareness and assistance in providing tips and other information is vital in rescuing victims and prosecuting both the vendors and customers of human trafficking. A major difference in the new campaign is the partnership with Clear Channel Radio in promoting a new serious of advertisements. Suzanne Grimes invited the Governor and Mayor Parker to unveil the new bulletin boards in Spanish and English with the title “United Against Human Trafficking.” The ads feature young girls with the subtitle “Let them be heard” and the phone number for the human trafficking hot-line 1 888-373-888.

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