FBI Director Says Human Trafficking Remains Major Challenge In Houston

FBI Director James Comey visited Houston Thursday. He says the top issues facing the region haven’t changed much over the last couple of years.

James Comey
FBI Director James Comey


Since he began serving as director, James Comey has cited Houston as a key city for the FBI. He says its proximity to the U.S.–Mexico border and to major waterways makes it a truly international city, but that brings unique challenges for law enforcement. Comey speaking to the media in Houston about those issues about a month after he took office in 2013.

“The great part about it is the world is here,” Comey said. “Potentially, the bad part about it is bad actors will learn of Houston and be in Houston. So it’s an incredibly important city for the FBI and for all of my colleagues for that reason.”

This video was published on Oct 25, 2013.

Those bad actors he refered to are criminals like human traffickers who take advantage of Houston’s strategic location. Today, Comey says his concerns remain the same.

“In some ways, human trafficking is a bigger feature here than in a place like New York because of our proximity to the border and those routes of trafficking for drugs or people or material,” he says. “So it’s a big feature of our work here.”

Comey says the FBI can’t fight human trafficking without the help of local law enforcement. He says they know the neighborhoods and are much more likely to spot crime before federal agents.

Comey says the FBI has also invested more resources in fighting human trafficking this past year. When he began serving as director, the agency was facing major budget cuts after the government shutdown.  

“We were hurting,” Comey says. “We were rationing gas trying to decide whether to go do an interview or to talk to a victim, which is a crazy place to be. Thanks to the help of some of the people standing here today, Congress got the message and funded the FBI adequately, so now my task has been to climb back out of the hole.”

Comey says he’s hired about 2,400 employees since then. He plans to hire another 3,000 by the end of September.