Bell County Sheriff sees increase in human trafficking

Local

Did you know Texas is the state with the second highest amount of human trafficking cases in our nation? 

And it’s closer than you think. 

The Bell County Sheriff’s Department has reported an increase in the human trafficking cases they’re investigating since the last for years.

“With I-35 in our backyard, this makes Central Texas the corridor for human trafficking,” said Lt. Michele Cianci, Special Crimes Division, “It’s happening right now, right here in Central Texas, in Belton, Texas.”

Cianci says the average age of the human trafficking victims is 12. 

“We have high school individuals that are traffickers and are trafficking high school females.”

Cianci says the majority of local cases she works with are runaways who get sucked into the discreet, but powerful, underground sex service industry. 

“If you promise them Heaven, they’ll follow you to Hell and that’s basically the kind of environment the victims live in and it’s very hard for them to get away.”

Cianci says on average the victims are sold for sex between 20-25 times a day with all of the profits going to their trafficker.

“They keep nothing and then they get malnourished, they eat bad, mainly fast food, they aren’t treated right, they have nothing..”

Cianci says some cases even involve the victims being sold by family members for a profit.

“it’s very sad all the way around. “

But the Bell County Sheriff’s Department is doing their job to make sure these young women come home safe. 

“You realize that is somebody’s daughter, somebody’s niece so heck yes it does touch us,” said Major T.J. Cruz, with the BCSD. 

Other Central Texas Law Enforcement agencies such as Killeen Police are also working on human trafficking cases. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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