MADISONVILLE, Texas — Madison County Sheriff Bobby Adams said his corner of the Brazos Valley is, unfortunately, a corridor of human and drug trafficking, thanks to U.S. 45. Authorities intervened in an incident of human trafficking over the weekend.
Saturday evening along U.S. 45 near Madisonville, a Madison County deputy pulled over a car filled with nine adult labor trafficking victims, after receiving a tip from a neighboring police agency.
"One of our investigators came out and interviewed each one of them, photographed them, identified them the best way possible," Sheriff Adams said. "Then through the statements she learned, they were all headed to Oklahoma, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Dallas.”
The man and woman driving the SUV were a mother and son, and both were arrested and charged with nine counts of human trafficking each. The nine men and women found piled in the back of the vehicle were temporarily detained, but ultimately treated as victims of trafficking.
“They were each provided a meal and a place to rest if they needed it," said Adams. "Victim services then assisted them with temporary visas as long as they cooperated with law enforcement. They were released to family and friends.”
The sheriff commented that some of these individuals had paid money to be transported to the U.S. up across the Texas border. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, labor trafficking victims are often brought to the u.S. For the use of domestic labor, construction and factory work.
“Victims may be blackmailed by traffickers using the victims’ status as an undocumented alien or their participation in an “illegal” industry," the HHS website states. "By threatening to report them to law enforcement or immigration officials, traffickers keep victims compliant. People who are trafficked often come from unstable and economically devastated places as traffickers frequently identify vulnerable populations characterized by oppression, high rates of illiteracy, little social mobility and few economic opportunities.”
Adams said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been involved and will continue to investigate this case. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ‘ICE,’ did not elect to participate in this case.