Authorities in Texas have arrested at least 30 people intending to buy sex and rescued a child over three days as part of an undercover human trafficking investigation called “Operation Cupid” in Fort Bend County.
“Over three days, Operation Cupid aimed to combat human trafficking in Fort Bend County by identifying and arresting those intending to buy sex,” Assistant District Attorney Craig Priesmeyer told reporters this week, according to Fort Bend Herald.
“Commonly known as ‘johns,’ they create the demand for human trafficking and contribute to the pervasive problem the community faces from these crimes. We are focused on saving victims by following basic economics; removing the demand will reduce the supply,” Priesmeyer explained.
It was a joint operation by the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office, the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance and partnering agencies.
Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian Middleton was quoted as saying that the rescue of even one person “highlights the significance” of such operations. “The success of this operation shows that we have much more work to do if we are to eradicate trafficking from Fort Bend County.”
KLTV quoted Fort Bend County Sheriff Eric Fagan as saying, “Perpetrators should know, Fort Bend County is no longer a place where you can come easily to commit these crimes, we’re out there now, we’re looking for you, and we will arrest you.”
According to a statement sent to The Christian Post by the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office Friday, in a separate operation, a 21-year-old Palestinian man, Rusty Bryant, was arrested in Anderson County and charged with three counts for possessing child pornography. He also allegedly uploaded child pornography to a social media account.
The Human Trafficking Unit also made several arrests last week, the statement said. In Williamson County, it cited one such arrest, 22-year-old Darian Terrell Simpson, who was arrested for sexually assaulting and engaging sexually with a child.
In Arizona last month, police arrested 37 people accused of child sex crimes and large-scale human trafficking as part of a multi-agency undercover mission called “Operation Broken Hearts.”
In the 2020 report on U.S. government efforts to combat trafficking in persons, the State Department warned about “the increasing number of people vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers due to the instability, isolation, and lack of access to critical services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“The effects of COVID-19, as with other catastrophic events, are disproportionately impacting communities suffering from systemic or generational inequality — the same communities traffickers often prey upon,” the report said.
The FBI also revealed recently that its caseload for trafficking-related crimes, for both sex and labor, had increased significantly in the past several years. In 2020, the agency started 664 human trafficking investigations across the country, arresting 473 people.