New data published by the Fort Worth Police Department shows human trafficking incidents are on the rise in the city. 

The Dallas Express reported on the Fort Worth Police Department’s (FWPD) latest numbers, which show that there is a 21 percent increase in human trafficking incidents logged between January and September 2023, as compared to 2022. In 2023, there were 23 incidents logged. Meanwhile, in 2022, 19 incidents were logged during the same period. 

In Dallas, human trafficking incidents have also been logged in the city’s crime analytics dashboard. As of December 1, 2023, 49 cases have been logged—a slight increase from 2022, which saw 43 incidents.

In 2005, FWPD created a six-person human trafficking unit after multiple trafficking victims were located by authorities. 

Meanwhile, the Dallas Police Department (DPD) has continued to struggle to devote resources to human trafficking cases due to a police shortage within the city. As reported by Texas Scorecard, DPD has been maintaining fewer than 3,200 officers. However, city analysis shows that a municipality the size of Dallas should have a staffing level of around 4,000 officers. 

However, while the rise in crimes may be attributed to staffing shortages, the crisis on the southwest border may also be impacting the increase in human trafficking cases. 

Selene Rodriguez, a policy director for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told Texas Scorecard that the increase in human trafficking can be linked to the Biden administration’s failing border policies and the Mexican cartels. 

Rodriguez says that the cartels are very smart and adapt quickly to changes at the border on both the U.S. and Mexican sides. Due to the mass amounts of illegal border crossers being encountered at the southwest border every day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are stretched thin. This results in fewer agents patrolling between ports of entry—where many cartels smuggle children and other desperate aliens into the U.S.

“The cartels exploit this by coordinating large groups of aliens to cross at points they choose, having full control over who and what enters from Mexico. With that, they are profiting record amounts of money from human smuggling operations and human trafficking in Latin America, Mexico, and the United States,” explained Rodriguez.

Trafficking happens in numerous ways. One notable tactic cartels use is “child recycling.” In this tactic, traffickers reuse children to get adults not only across the border, but also by allowing them to stay in the U.S. once they arrive. The children are then sent back to Mexico and used again by another “false family.” Because Border Patrol lacks the resources and time to conduct family interviews that could catch these “false families,” the cartels are able to use this tactic far more often. 

“Often, children will be put in the hands of cartels and sent to the U.S., and it often happens that those children are put in the hands of human traffickers once they get here. They will be used for sex trafficking or labor trafficking, as there is less and less oversight over the government agencies that should be ensuring the children’s safety once in the U.S.,” explained Rodriguez. 

Rodriguez says that the Biden administration’s failing border policies are victimizing the illegal border crossers and giving cartels and human traffickers millions of new victims to enslave in their scheme. 

“Often, people do not even know they are being trafficked until it is too late. They pay some money and are told they’ll be safely escorted to the United States, but along the way they face unimaginable horrors including rape, assault, and for some even death,” said Rodriguez. “When they do arrive, they end up finding out they are indebted to trafficking organizations and put to work, rarely ever being able to fully pay off that debt.”

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.