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TABC holds three-week course to get hands-on experience with human trafficking cases

Police
Posted at 6:06 PM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 08:14:49-04

BRYAN, Texas — Modern-day slavery, human trafficking, continues to be a growing problem in the state of Texas.

“On average they think there's probably 300,000 people being held against their will in Texas," said Bentley Nettles, Executive Director of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). "That's a huge number.”

In 2019 the Texas State Legislature made preventing human trafficking a priority for the TABC.

“We’re the premier investigator for human trafficking and organized crime and permitted locations which are restaurants bars convenience stores,” said Nettles.

For the second year, TABC has partnered with Texas Engineering Extension Services (TEEX) to host a three-week training allowing local, state, and federal law enforcement officers to get hands-on experience of human trafficking cases.

As part of that mission, the agency conducts regular undercover training to assist TABC agents and other law enforcement members identify and interdict potential trafficking.

“Extremely interactive we have not only the students who participate in the training of this program but we also have instructors who also serve as role players and we also have volunteers that assist us in these scenarios to also serve as role players as well," said Victory Kuykendoll, Deputy Executive Director, TABC. "So, it's very interactive, it takes the classroom into the real world scenario, it gives them hands-on experience in investigating crimes.”

Wednesday night’s training included the simulated entry of a bar where trafficking was suspected to be taking place.

Undercover agents then executed a search warrant in an effort to identify and rescue trafficking victims.

Participating alongside TABC agents were officers from the Department of Public Safety, the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office and the Bryan and College Station police departments.

“There's no other place that we're aware of in Texas, or even across the country, that does this kind of training this in-depth. Especially as it relates to human trafficking involving industry members and things of that nature,” said Kuykendoll.

According to the Attorney General's office, there are 234,000 victims of labor trafficking in Texas at any given time. Kuykendoll says that labor trafficking was one area this year's training focused on.

“We’ve included a labor trafficking portion to this training, and we want to also emphasize focus more on the victims that we were trying to recover and save from the cycle of horrible, and horrific crimes that's been exposed to," said Kuykendoll. "So those are some of the elements that we would like to really increase our efforts on."

Since 2019, TABC has seen an increase of 70% reporting to the agency about human trafficking occurring in TABC licensed premises.

TABC says after a human trafficking operation, victims need support. TABC partners with nongovernmental organizations to help the victims of these crimes.

If you want to partner with TABC to improve the lives of human trafficking victims, call 512-206-3301.