#NotInTX: TABC Partners with Alcoholic Beverage Industry to End Human Trafficking at Licensed Businesses
AUSTIN – The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is joining with members of the alcoholic beverage industry to eradicate human trafficking on TABC-licensed premises.
Human trafficking is the forced or coerced exploitation of persons, often by criminal organizations which bring their victims into the country illegally. Approximately 17,500 human trafficking victims are brought into the United States annually, according to the U.S. State Department, with more than 20 percent of those victims being held in Texas. In many cases, victims are told they'll receive assistance entering the United States, only to be sent into forced labor or sex work once they arrive. Victims include both adults and children, and may sometimes be held at a legitimate TABC-licensed business serving as a front for the illegal activity.
"Human trafficking is nothing more than modern-day slavery, and it has no place in Texas," TABC Chairman Kevin Lilly said. "Our goal is nothing less than the complete eradication of human trafficking at TABC-licensed businesses, and we're thankful for the many members of the alcoholic beverage industry who are joining us for this mission."
Starting this week, TABC officials will provide training for members of the industry to help their employees identify the warning signs of human trafficking and report those signs to TABC via anonymous complaint. TABC law enforcement personnel will then conduct surveillance of any locations identified in the complaints to determine if criminal activity is taking place.
The first training sessions will take place Friday, February 9 for employees of Brown Distributing and Capitol Wright Distributing in Austin. Further training will be planned across the state throughout 2018, according to TABC Executive Director A. Bentley Nettles.
"We're starting this as a voluntary effort for the remainder of 2018," Nettles said. "Any industry member who wishes to receive the training can contact their local TABC office. However, beginning in 2019, we're going to seek a rule change which would make this training mandatory for anyone who applies for an Agent's Permit within Texas."
In addition to the industry training, TABC will begin a new campaign intended to raise public awareness of human trafficking within licensed businesses. The "#NotInTX" campaign will use social media, printed materials and videos to help the public identify the warning signs of human trafficking and provide information on ways to report suspected illegal activity to the TABC or to local law enforcement authorities.
TABC has played a leading role in fighting human trafficking in Texas since the agency's formation by the Legislature in 1935. In 2004 and 2005, a joint investigation involving TABC and the FBI resulted in the rescue of nearly 120 women and girls who had been enslaved and forced into prostitution in the Houston area. Further operations statewide have resulted in the cancellation of more than 100 permits with ties to organized crime, including narcotics trafficking, drink solicitation, and other violations frequently tied to human trafficking.
"Human trafficking not only ruins the lives of the victims, it has a tremendous impact on public safety for law-abiding citizens and businesses," said Lilly. "By ending human trafficking at TABC-licensed businesses, we can make the alcoholic beverage industry safer for our business owners and our community. I'm extremely grateful for the dozens of industry members who are tackling this problem head-on and working with their employees and the TABC to ensure a safe Texas for all."
For more information about TABC's efforts to combat human trafficking, please visit our Human Trafficking page. To report suspected human trafficking at a TABC-licensed business, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or submit an anonymous complaint via the TABC:Mobile smartphone app available as a free download for IOS or Android devices.
Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462