Human trafficking brings Tajikistan to Harris County - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Human trafficking brings Tajikistan to Harris County

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They came all the way from Tajikistan, a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia where about half the population lives below the poverty line, searching for answers.

"These people simply want to send money home.  They want to support families or children and when they get there, their passports are taken; they're beaten; their families are threatened," assistant county attorney Linda Geffin said.

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan said the sex trade makes up just a small part of what Tajikistan is seeing when it comes to human trafficking.

"It has to do with all sorts of uses for human beings for someone else's profit at minimal expense," Ryan said.  "It could be children begging on the street.  It could be children knocking on the door, asking for a contribution we see this all the time."

The county attorney's office is sharing their expertise with members of the relatively young country who are seeing job seekers getting caught up in human trafficking.

"Smugglers are using them to force them into other activities," Gulru Azamova, a visitor from Tajikistan, said.

"Once they are caught by these criminals, they are trapped and they are controlled and they are scared," Ryan said.

The group is also seeking advice from an undercover informant who helps human trafficking victims in what can be a difficult return to a normal life.

"It's not just as simple as walking away," the informant said.  "It's really more about the emotional restraint that has been developed in their lives that keeps them in business and keeps them from being exploited for financial gain."

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