Texas is a hub for international human trafficking because of its many busy interstate highways, international airports, countless bus stations, the shipping commerce through the Gulf of Mexico, and its shared border with Mexico. This border is North America’s number one supply site for young children used in sex and labor trafficking. Texas is also home to Houston, the fourth largest city in the U.S. with one of the largest international communities in the country. In addition, Texas houses the I-10 corridor, which the Department of Justice designated as the number one route for human trafficking. Texas continues to serve as the biggest point of illegal entry into the United States largely because traffickers are able to get aliens across the border without documents. Trafficking in Texas especially flourishes due to three major factors: proximity, demographics, and the large immigrant labor force. In fact, in the last quarter of 2007, 30% of the calls received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline were out of Texas and 25% of all international victims certified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services were in Texas.
Texas is also a hotspot for domestic human trafficking because cities such as Dallas, Houston and Austin have many runaway and “throwaway” youth. On average, both Houston and Dallas have about 6,000 runaways each annually. According to National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Throwaway Children, an estimated one out of every three children that run away is lured into sex trafficking within 48 hours of leaving home. Even more frightening is the fact that the average age of entry into sex trafficking is between 12 and 13 years old. Children who run away from home can often be found at bus stations, which have become a major recruiting ground for prostitution. ICE Operation Predator estimates that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys in the United States are sexually exploited before they reach adulthood. Texas is also home to a large amount of sexually oriented businesses including strip clubs, massage parlors, and modeling studios, most of which can be found along inter and intra-state highways. In addition, Houston, Dallas, and Austin, with their many university and professional sports teams and events, attract many visitors. Major sporting events and conventions provide a great demand for the commercial sex industry and traffickers often travel to these events to fill that demand.