Does Amarillo Have A Human Trafficking Problem?
As I was scrolling through the news from the weekend, I saw something and it just struck me the wrong way.
27 people arrested in Amarillo for sex work and human trafficking. The last sting done back in March produced an even higher number of arrests with 37!
That is a staggering number of people being arrested in ANY sting type of operation, but 64 arrests over the course of two sting operations beyond concerning. Sure, there were some people in here that were picked up on soliciting charges, that would be nothing new.
However, how many people were picked up on trafficking charges? What about those that were scooped on soliciting charges, but were doing it against their will?
APD Sergeant Carla Burr told ABC7 News it's unfortunately nothing new. "Texas leads the nation unfortunately in human trafficking and with us having two major interstates that go right through Amarillo, and then the accessibility of that online. We just try to do the best we can to make a dent in our area."
Unfortunately, she's not wrong. Having 2 major interstates makes the transportation of those being trafficked very easy. A lot of traffic runs through those interstates and when people are being trafficked, they are typically moved from place to place so they aren't easily tracked.
Trafficking has become a very lucrative business, and it isn't just limited to women. There are men and children (sadly) that get taken or coerced into this line of work. They don't want to be doing it, but they are essentially brainwashed into it.
Sgt. Burr mentioned that they talk to the person arrested and try to determine if they are doing this because of their own free will, or if they've been pushed into it and can't find a way out. No word on how many, if any, of the people arrested in the latest operation were doing it against their will. We'll probably never know.
Texas leads the nation in human trafficking. There are a myriad of factors that play into that. It doesn't make it ok.
So how can we help end this in Amarillo? Well, one way is to stop paying for illegal services provided by workers. There are plenty of legal services that you can obtain, and most of those workers are doing it on their own free will. Think bachelor party type of legal services. As the business slows down, maybe so will the amount of trafficking going on.
Secondly, if you are a victim of trafficking or know of someone that is, there is help available. Family Support Services of Amarillo and No Boundaries Amarillo have their doors open to you. Don't let this run your life and define you.
We have to work together to make Amarillo, Texas and the nation a better place and rid of things like this.