HOUSTON — Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, Mayor Sylvester Turner and County Attorney Vince Ryan announced a new initiative to combat prostitution and human trafficking in the Bissonnet area on Wednesday.
A particular stretch of Bissonnet Street — refered to as "The Track" in many circles— has remained a popular hub for prostitution for the last several years. The Harris County Attorney's Office has filed a court injunction to force pimps, prostitutes, and their John' off the streets of H-town.
"Part of the challenge is we live in the biggest 'un-zoned' city in America," Ryan said.
According to officials, the area is world-famous for sex trafficking, even advertised on international websites as "Houston's Red Light District."
Since January 2016, Houston police reported nearly 4,000 crimes in the area— with 25 percent involving sex crimes.
[Exclusive: Prostitute from "The Track" speaks about "booming" business]
There's even evidence of prostitution going down in broad daylight, right next to an elementary school!
Authorities are now trying to create a sex crime-free zone called the "Bissonnet Anti-Prostitution Zone."
This is the first type of anti-prostitution injunction filed in the State of Texas.
"It's about creating an environment where it makes it harder for pimps to victimize these young women whose lives are stolen from their families," Acevedo said.
Some 86 defendants are even named in a court-filed petition seeking to prevent the alleged pimps, prostitutes, and Johns from entering the zone or engaging in buying or selling sex or other crimes.
"Every Houstonian deserves to live in a neighborhood where you can visit your family or go to dinner without seeing or being approached by prostitution," Mayor said.
The devastating impact of sex trafficking in Houston is far reaching, and the problem may be much bigger than many think. In March, NewsFix spoke with several local trafficking victims who bravely came forward to share their stories in hopes of saving others.
Anyone who suspects or knows of someone whose life is being affected by sex trafficking is asked to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.