"Human trafficking is a crime that impacts communities around the world. Unfortunately, in the U.S., our state ranks second in number of calls to the human trafficking hotline, next to California, and most of the calls from Texas come from Houston," Mayor Annise Parker said today at a gathering of local officials.
The comments were part of a human trafficking awareness campaign kick-off press conference attended by Gov. Rick Perry. While the message has been the same for years now, it's the delivery system to keep the crime constantly in the daily conversation that's different.
With the support of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas and Clear Channel Outdoor North American more than a dozen Texas cities will display public service billboards.
"This modern-day slave trade is an affront to basic human decency, a product of the very worst among us - criminals who prey on the hopes and dreams of others and subjugate them through the threat of violence or death," Gov. Perry said.
State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, HRRC Executive Director Maria Trujillo, and Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw were also on hand.
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"The despicable criminals who engage in human trafficking and target vulnerable individuals - including innocent children - are forcing their victims into modern-day slavery and servitude," McCraw said, "Preventing and disrupting this type of criminal activity is a top priority for the state, and all efforts to heighten public awareness about these crimes are critical to our success in combatting these heinous crimes."