Human trafficking in Texoma: What we're seeing in 2023
SHERMAN, Texas (KTEN) — Dallas is one of the top cities in the U.S. for human trafficking cases, with cities along the Texas-Mexico border even higher on the list.
"With the open borders, kids are coming across unaccompanied or accompanied by handlers," said Kaaren Teuber, a coordinator for the Texoma Patriots organization.
"What we have on our southern border right now is leading to increasing numbers of enforced human sex trafficking," added Grayson County District Attorney Brett Smith.
With Dallas just an hour south of Grayson County, Smith said there's reason for concern for Texomans.
"There's a certain level of trafficking that's going to be associated with casinos," said Smith. "So I think Cooke and Grayson County probably do see a lot of what we call 'thoroughfare trafficking.'"
"It's here," said Teuber. "And people need to be aware of it... we have young children here."
Fannin County District Attorney Richard Glaser said he typically sees human trafficking cases within families, citing an example of a mother who was giving her son to her male co-workers. But the case wouldn't have been noticed if it weren't for an unrelated counseling session from a car accident.
"We reach anywhere from two to three human trafficking cases a year," said Smith. "I think our office currently has three of those pending right now. I would suspect that the number of human trafficking cases is tenfold that."
Smith adds the typical victim is a female teen, especially those who have trouble at home or have mental health issues.
Thursday night in Sherman, Jaco Booyens, an expert in the field of human trafficking, spoke to families about his experience after his sister was kidnapped.
"Trafficked for six years," said Teuber. "And he quit school and tried to find her."
After he did find her, he dove right back in to help stop more from happening.
Denison police spokesperson Haley Banks offered some tips to help stop you from getting caught in a bad situation.
"Going out in group settings, being aware of your surroundings, and don't get in cars with people that you do not know," she advised
Texas has spent millions to help stop trafficking. You can visit the I Watch Texas website to report Texas trafficking.