A state organization wants Houstonians to know exactly where in Houston children and women are being exploited.
Unfortunately, Houston has been a hub for human trafficking for quite some time now. The Department of Justice estimates one in every four trafficking victims in the nation will travel through Houston at some point.
If you look closely and know what to look for, you'll be able to see where trafficking occurs within your community. They're hidden and run inside brothels, cantinas, spas, massage parlors and karaoke bars, havens for the unwilling exploitation of children and women.
Children at Risk hosts a bus tour, giving Houstonians a first-hand look at specific areas of our city known for human trafficking.
"Right in our neighborhood, there are places and businesses engaged in human trafficking," CAR's Bob Sanborn said. "It's happening right here and right near us and people need to be outraged and they need to be going to city council and county commissioners and saying we don't want these types of places in our neighborhood."
First stop: US 59 and Chimney Rock. The next stop: The Houston Ship Channel – Clinton Drive at Wayside.
"Typically, when you walk into one of these spas, you'll see a waiting room, a couch, ATM, you'll walk in and they'll be a window where the women are paraded out, usually in lingerie or bathing suits and you pick which one you want," the tour guide said.
You'll pay, a girl will tell you to get comfortable which means take off your clothes and if you don't, she'll shut down the whole operation thinking you may be a cop or wearing a wire.
Another problem spot: just behind Hobby Airport off Telephone Road.
"From Telephone Road, we'll pass several spas and also several karaoke bars which are the same setup as cantinas except Asian operated and owned," the tour guide said.
"In these places is the beginning of the exploitation that happens for a lot of women that leads to forced prostitution, trafficking; it's kind of like the grooming process," victim Cheryl Briggs said.
Briggs speaks from experience. She was trafficked for two years as a young teen. She's now dedicated to prevention education and victim services.
"I never forget it. It has changed me and it has taken 35 years of working on it, in different stages, it's been a process and what I'm hoping is that other women don't have to go through that long of a process," she said.
If you or someone you know is a victim, there's a national hotline you can call for help.
The number is 1-888-373-7888.