Criminal JusticeLocal NewsHarris County Report on Human Trafficking Prompts Calls for Reforms

Since 2018, 67 percent of human trafficking defendants in Harris County received sentences of five years or less, and 90 percent were not required to register as sex offenders.
April 19, 2021
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Wanted on charges of human trafficking and compelling prostitution in Houston, Jacque Adams is alleged to have tattooed “King Jacque” on the necks of his victims before forcing them to work as prostitutes.

Although Adams was held in Harris County on charges of human trafficking, compelling prostitution by force, aggravated promotion of prostitution, and continuous violence against family, he was released from the 183rd District Court under Judge Danilo Lacayo in May of 2019.

Records indicate the district attorney requested no bond in the case, but the court granted bond of $30,000 and released Adams after he paid $3,000.

In June of 2020, officials in Clark County, Nevada indicted Adams on an additional six human trafficking and compelled prostitution charges, and his Harris County bonds were finally revoked in January of 2021, but he is still listed at large as of Monday morning.

Adams is just one of several wanted suspects highlighted by Houston Crime Stoppers during a press conference last week in relation to a new report on the prosecution of human trafficking in Harris County.

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The report covers a two year period beginning in January of 2018 and indicates that of 549 human trafficking-related cases filed, 67 percent of defendants received sentences of five years or less or community supervision, and 90 percent of those convicted were not required to register as sex offenders in the state of Texas.

Andy Kahan, victim advocate for Crime Stoppers, explained that the 549 cases are dispersed among just 217 defendants who face multiple charges, and nearly 80 percent of those were previously out on bond when charged in new human trafficking cases.

Imani Jean-Marie Cole, another at large suspect, was charged with human trafficking of a child and compelling prostitution, but the 263rd District Court under Judge Amy Martin authorized Cole’s release on two personal recognizance bonds in 2019.  

Jennifer Hohman, Crime Stoppers board member, said the report indicated a need for action from the state legislature.

“What this is proving is that repeat violent offenders that enslave other humans to sell them for commercial sex are not being punished and held when they’re a danger to the community,” said Hohman.

In addition to legislation addressing felony bond policy, Hohman explained that there are several bills pending before the state legislature that could help to address human trafficking by raising the minimum age for participation in sexually oriented businesses from 18 to 21.

Noting that residents must be age 21 or older to drink alcoholic beverages, vape, smoke, or gamble in the state, Hohman said, “but at 18 you can be sexually exploited by others in sexually oriented businesses.”

Hohman also urged passage of legislation authored by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) that would enhance penalties for those soliciting prostitution.

“In order to curb supply, we have to go after the demand,” said Hohman. “In Houston, we have over 300 illicit massage businesses where commercial sex with children and adults are being sold.”

“Texas can and should be the first state in the United States to make sex buying of adults and children a felony, which will deter some buyers.”

The mother of one human trafficking survivor, Lana Turner, described how her teen daughter was taken to San Antonio, tattooed, drugged, and assaulted, but said that of the five arrested in relation to the case, four of those were released on bail. 

Of those four, one fled the country and the other three successfully negotiated probation. The fifth man was held since he had been connected to other trafficking crimes, but Turner said her daughter was too afraid to testify against him and the case was dismissed. 

“The real issue is what happens when someone is actually arrested and charged,” said Kahan. “I think it’s important particularly for victims that we send a message out, that if you’re willing to be brave enough to come forward that we’re going to be behind you and we’re going to do what we can.”

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Holly Hansen

Holly Hansen

Holly Hansen is a freelance writer living in Harris County. Her former column, “All In Perspective” ran in The Georgetown Advocate, Jarrell Star Ledger, and The Hill Country News, and she has contributed to a variety of Texas digital media outlets. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida with a degree in History, and in addition to writing about politics and policy, also writes about faith and culture.