Secret Dallas is a website that offers a “collection of links to the interesting and unusual Dallas entertainment and attractions that few visitors ever see during a typical visit.”
In effect, the website is a internet tour of the underbelly of famed city’s sex industry. This industry is so prevalent that there is a website called Dallas Brothels that allows gentlemen of the evening, or anyone else with a sexual appetite, to “hook up” with the “local girls.”
Recently fifteen Dallas women, who offered hook ups with local girls at massage parlors, were arrested for aggravated promotion of prostitution—a third three felony that carries a penalty of two to ten years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.
The women worked as either owners or managers of eight different massage parlors in northwest Dallas. They were caught in a sting as a part of a sex-trafficking investigation.
Undercover agents visited the suspicious massage parlors and paid the managers for massage treatments. Employees then asked the agents if they wanted to have sex, at which point the officers would find an excuse to leave the premises.
After the managers were arrested, investigators discovered affidavits that showed they oversaw 21 women. Many of the women are believed to be victims of sex trafficking.
Besides the state charges, two of the women face federal charges of using a facility of interstate commerce in aid of a racketeering enterprise, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking—a conviction that carries a maximum penalty of five years and/or a fine up to $250,000.
Sex Trafficking and Texas
In recent years, sex trafficking has become a top priority for state and federal investigators. It is a form of human trafficking, which is defined by the NCSL as “the control and exploitation of people for profit.”
Sex trafficking is the most common form of human trafficking in Texas, significantly higher than labor or other forms of human trafficking.
To prove that someone is guilty of sex trafficking, a prosecutor must show the following:
- The defendant recruited, harbored, transported, provided, or obtained a victim for the purpose of promoting sexual activity exchanged for anything of value.
- The defendant used force, fraud, or coercion while transporting a victim.
For example, someone brings a young woman across state lines with the promise of a job. That “job” is actually prostitution. The defendant forces the woman to perform the job, however, by telling her that her immigration status will be compromised and the woman will be deported and jailed if she does not follow orders.
If a prosecutor can prove these things, that defendant will be found guilty.
Penalties for Sex Trafficking
In the state of Texas, human trafficking is a second-degree felony. You can face between 2-20 years in prison if convicted. If the victims are under the age of 14 or the offense results in death, the offense is a first-degree felony, and you can face between 5-99 years in prison.
In addition to sex trafficking, defendants will also most likely face charges of promoting or compelling prostitution. Compelling is the act of using force, threat, or fraud in order for another person to commit prostitution. The promotion of prostitution is a class A misdemeanor, and aggravated promotion of prostitution is a third-degree felony. Compelling prostitution is a second-degree felony.
Many cases of human trafficking, however, involve transporting victims over state and national borders. This is where federal investigators and law enforcement comes in. And if you thought the penalties in state court were harsh, you haven’t seen anything yet.
Under federal law, sex traffickers receive a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Yes, life. In fact, earlier this year a federal judge sentenced a woman from Houston to life in prison for leading a sex trafficking ring.
If you have been arrested on charges of sex trafficking or related sex crimes, it is important to get in touch with an experienced sex crimes attorney so that you can start crafting your defense as soon as possible.