Regional organizations, law enforcement join for inaugural anti-trafficking event

Montgomery County Coalition Against Human Trafficking members joined in a panel discussion at The Woodlands United Methodist Church at the coalition’s Oct. 10 event. (Ben Thompson, Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County Coalition Against Human Trafficking members joined in a panel discussion at The Woodlands United Methodist Church at the coalition’s Oct. 10 event. (Ben Thompson, Community Impact Newspaper)

Montgomery County Coalition Against Human Trafficking members joined in a panel discussion at The Woodlands United Methodist Church at the coalition’s Oct. 10 event. (Ben Thompson, Community Impact Newspaper)

More than 30 organizations involved in human trafficking prevention gathered at The Woodlands United Methodist Church on Oct. 10 for the Montgomery County Coalition Against Human Trafficking’s first community event in response to concerns about trafficking growth in the area.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1,000 human trafficking cases were reported in Texas in 2018, of which 719 were sex trafficking cases.

Tyler Dunman, a coalition member and the outgoing chief of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office Special Crimes Bureau, said the issue exists in Montgomery County.

“We’ve got to get past this idea that it doesn’t exist here and that our kids aren’t being exploited and that our women and men aren’t being exploited,” Dunham said.

John Godden, a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office detective, said public information on potential trafficking incidents is a key to law-enforcement efforts in the area.

“If you think you see trafficking, don’t hesitate,” he said. “I would rather get the call and be wrong than miss the call.”

Godden said residents can contact the county sheriff’s office or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline to send anonymous tips.

Rebecca Cary, founder of the Christian anti-trafficking nonprofit Hands of Justice, said becoming more informed on the issue is also essential to identifying and assisting victims.

“If you don’t know the signs, you really can’t look for them, and if you can’t look for them, you can’t help somebody,” she said.

Panelists mentioned incidents can occur at schools or around children.

“Be the families involved in your kid’s life,” said Dennis Mark, executive director of the trafficking survivors restoration program Redeemed Ministries.
By Ben Thompson
Ben joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2019 and is a reporter for The Woodlands edition.


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