TX Lege signs Texas Model into law to end sex and human trafficking

Texas will be a model for other states to end human and sex trafficking.

An estimated 9,000 illicit massage businesses currently operate in the United States, 700 of which are in Texas.

The businesses are prevalent in major cities, but have also began spreading into smaller towns, cities and suburbs. Legislators report countless women are trapped in these storefronts and forced to provide sexual services to as many as 10 men per day.

Not only are these women enslaved in a system of human trafficking, these businesses often function as fronts for other organized criminal activity such as money laundering, immigration fraud, smuggling, tax evasion, and wage and hour violations.

Legislators said if they end the demand for sex slaves, they can start to end human trafficking in Texas.

Children At Risk attorney Jamie Caruthers said the Texas Model connects victims with services instead of sending them to jail for prostitution.

"Drug and alcohol counseling, help with GED, domestic violence counseling, all these things that are offered through probation for the sellers," said Caruthers.

He said the Texas Model is two-fold.

"For the buyers, we're going to connect them with county jail. We've ramped up the penalties. Ramped them up to Class A misdemeanor for the first offense. State jail felony for every offense thereafter," said Caruthers.

In 2017, the 85th Texas Legislature passed several statutes addressing illicit massage businesses, including Senate Bill 2065, which made the operation, maintenance or advertisement of an unlicensed massage business a violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices - Consumer Protection Act. House Bill 2552 also amended the Common Nuisance statute to allow law enforcement to send a notice of arrest for prostitution or maintaining an unlicensed massage business.

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