In February of 2004, the Austin Police Department implemented the IPT (Immigrant Protection) Unit to help combat the crime of human trafficking since many of the victims of human trafficking are immigrants.  The IPT was attached to the APD Robbery Unit and assisted with robberies involving immigrant victims as well as addressing cases of fraud and scam affecting the immigrant community.

In October 2004, the Austin Police Department applied for and received a federal grant to help combat human trafficking. The Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded the three year grant in December 2004.  The grant was one of ten awarded nationwide that provided funding for ten task forces under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

In 2007, the unit's name and mission was changed to focus on their true and only purpose - to investigate and find victims of human trafficking - both immigrants and domestic U.S. citizens.

Human Trafficking does exist in Austin. The Austin Police Department primarily encounters cases of sexual exploitation of teenage girls.

There are a number of common patterns for luring victims into situations of human trafficking, including:

    * A promise of a good job in another country
    * A false marriage proposal turned into a bondage situation
    * Being kidnapped by traffickers
 

There are several ways you can help end human trafficking. Take action by raising awareness that human trafficking exists and talk to others about how to recognize the signs of potential victims. Report suspicious activity to law enforcement. Support groups and organizations that provide programs and services to human and labor trafficking survivors. Become an advocate for the cause and volunteer your time at a shelter or non-profit organization. 

Anyone encountering trafficking should call 911. Information about a potential trafficking situation can be reported to the National Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888, APD’s Human Trafficking Unit 512-974-4786, or the Crime Stopper’s tip line 512-472-TIPS (8477).

Trafficking of Persons is a second degree felony if the victim is an adult, and a first degree felony if the victim is a juvenile.

As you go about your daily activities we encourage you to "look beneath the surface" and watch for indicators of modern-day slavery such as the following: Evidence of being controlled,  Inability to move or leave a job,  Bruises or other signs of physical abuse,  No passport or other identification documents,  Recent arrival to the U.S. ,  Unaware of what city or state they are in,  Strong sense of fear or distrust.

Human Trafficking takes many forms and the signs can be hard to spot. Victims are most often isolated, scared to interact with strangers, and do not have their basic needs met.

Refugee Services of Texas - A social-service agency dedicated to providing assistance to refugees and other displaced persons fleeing persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group - as well as to the communities that welcome them. RST provides services to hundreds of refugees, asylees, survivors of human trafficking, and related vulnerable populations from over 30 different countries of origin each year. 

Safe Alliance - The SAFE Alliance exists to stop abuse for everyone by serving the survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence. They are dedicated to ending violence through prevention, advocacy, and comprehensive services for individuals, families, and communities that have been affected by abuse.  

Sanctuary Project - a nonprofit social enterprise providing meaningful employment and job training to women who have survived lives of trafficking, violence, and addiction. We are a survivor-run organization, offering a safe community for women in transition to grow in practical skills while restoring their lives and hearts. 

Allies Against Slavery - Specializes in using human trafficking data with their software, “Lighthouse.” Lighthouse helps partner organizations understand trends in human trafficking, spot victims of exploitation, and coordinate quality care. 

Extensive resources such as emergency housing, medical treatment, and counseling are available through local organizations such as Refugee Services of Texas and SAFE CARES.

Human Trafficking is modern day slavery, widespread throughout the United States today. Trafficking in humans is the second largest criminal industry in the world. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor. 

Victims of trafficking may look like many of the people you see and interact with every day.

  • Victims of labor trafficking can be found in: Domestic servitude (maids or nannies),  Construction,  Agricultural work,  Restaurant services,  Sweatshop factories,  Hotel or tourist industries,  Janitorial services,  Panhandling/begging operations
  • Victims of sex trafficking can be found in: Brothels,  Cantinas,  Strip club dancing,  Pornography
     

People from all walks of life are trafficked, but individuals from vulnerable populations are most often targeted by traffickers. In Austin, this is predominantly teenage girls who have run away from home or do not have a safe home to go to.

Just like the people who they victimize, traffickers come from all walks of life, including family members of the victims. The most common traffickers in the Austin area are career criminals who are primarily motivated by prompt financial gain

In addition to the physical violence and threats of violence against themselves, victims also face the threat of having their family members harmed or murdered by the traffickers if they try to run away or tell anyone about their situation. This creates extreme fear and psychological bondage that keeps them enslaved.