The Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office submitted a grant proposal in May to create a human trafficking task force to further support victims in investigations and prosecute individuals involved in human trafficking.

The details

The application is for the U.S. Department of Justice Enhanced Collaborative Model Task Force human trafficking grant, said Wesley Wittig, second assistant district attorney for Fort Bend County.

If awarded, the county will receive $569,869 from the U.S. Department of Justice and will provide a $189,631 match for the task force. The funds will support hiring the following two positions:
  • Task force coordinator
  • Investigator
In addition to prosecution efforts, the grant also requires collaboration with a victim service provider. To meet this requirement, Fort Bend County will partner with United Against Human Trafficking, a nonprofit dedicated to ending human trafficking, Wittig said.

The county is part of the regional Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance, although the grant will help establish county-specific resources, Wittig said.

By the numbers

The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office has seen 15 cases of human trafficking since 2019, according to data obtained through a public information request with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office. The highest peak of cases was in 2020 with eight, while one case of human trafficking was reported in the area in 2023.

What they’re saying

“Human trafficking is a worldwide problem, and the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office has always been the leader to fight this locally—we were doing it when no one else would,” Wittig said in an email. “Securing the financial support needed to continue to investigate these terrible crimes, hold criminals accountable and recover victims is important to District Attorney Brian Middleton because we want our residents to not only feel safe but to be safe.”

Looking ahead

Grants from the U.S. Department of Justice are set to be awarded by Oct. 1, Wittig said.

If the county is awarded the grant, funds will support the task force from Oct. 1, 2024-Sept. 20, 2027, according to agenda documents.