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Harris County Officials Tackle Human Trafficking, Starting At NRG Stadium

“Eighty-three cases of human trafficking have already occurred in my precinct this year.” 

Macie Kelly / Houston Public Media
County Judge Lina Hidalgo speaks on the importance of being vigilant in the fight against human trafficking at the ‘No Trafficking Zone’ press conference at NRG stadium.

County officials have declared NRG Park a “No Trafficking Zone,” saying it’s the first sports and entertainment facility in the nation to have that designation.

There are more than six million visitors to NRG Stadium every year, and officials say there is an increased presence of human trafficking at sporting events.

“We’re going to increase law enforcement presence and security here. So at NRG Park if you see something, you can say something,” James Dixon, who pastors The Community of Faith church, said at a press conference at NRG Stadium on Thursday.

Authorities said they’re going to activate a text number people can utilize if they feel unsafe. Additionally, they’ll host public forums at NRG Park to spread awareness of the problem and educate the public on how to detect when a trafficking situation may be occurring.

“This is a 365 day a year problem, and we have to treat it as such,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry and Houston has long been a central hub for it. The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 50,000 people were trafficked in Texas just last year. Hidalgo projects in Harris County alone there were 20,000 cases.

“Eighty-three cases of human trafficking have already occurred in my precinct this year,” said Constable Alan Rosen of Harris County Precinct One. “Of those, 29 are children.”

With the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo just ahead, and the stadium being considered as a host for the next FIFA World Cup, officials say it’s an important time to take action.

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