HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The crackdown has begun. The City of Houston captured video of a recent prostitution sting with officers posing as prostitutes and as the one who solicit them.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says it's time to change a negative aspect of the city's reputation.
"We do not want to be known as a hub of human trafficking," explains Turner.
Beside the undercover operations, the City also has a website to help people learn about the problem and combat it, in addition to providing resources for people who are the victims of trafficking. More programs related to combating trafficking are emerging.
The crackdown comes in advance of the Super Bowl in Houston on Feb. 5. Conventional wisdom says that fans from out of town bring cash and a certain moral flexibility while prostitutes from throughout the U.S. flock to the city to fill the demand. But is it true? A four-year study shows an increase in online sex advertisements in cities hosting the Big Game.
"Does that tell us all the johns that are here?," asks Minal Patel Davis, Mayor Turner's special advisor on human trafficking. "It does not, but it gives us an idea that ads were placed."
But little else. admits Davis. There's scant data available to support the theory that prostitution increases around the game, but Turner says we're in this for the long haul.
"This is not just for the Super Bowl," says Turner. "I will tell you we are using the exposure of the Super Bowl to heighten and bring attention to it."
And speaking of attention, Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo says while the victims of trafficking can expect to get help and access to social services when they're taken into custody, the men and women soliciting them are in for different treatment.
"When we arrest you, we will expose you for the sick person that you are and we will plaster your face in the community so people know," explains Acevedo.