State Representative Matt Shaheen announced on Jan. 24, 2022, that he filed a bill that will fight human trafficking in Texas by increasing criminal penalties for individuals caught engaging a prostitute who is a victim of sex trafficking.

“The truth about human trafficking victims is it affects women and children disproportionally,” Shaheen stated. “Individuals engaging prostitutes are supporting the human trafficking trade by increasing demand and this legislation will strongly penalize them. “My goal is a hard-hitting approach to attack the problem from every angle that will help to reduce human trafficking in Texas,” said Shaheen.

If the bill goes through, the act will go into effect on Sept. 1, 2023. The change in law made by this act applies only to an offense committed on or after the effective date of the act. An offense committed before the effective date of this act is governed by the law in effect on the date the offense was committed and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose. 

“I have always made the fight against human trafficking a top priority,” Shaheen said. “I will continue to do everything possible to rid our great state of this horrific practice Texans can no longer tolerate.”

Sex trafficking became an apparent issue in North Texas, when a brothel was found to be operating in Plano of a short-term rental. Local Profile previously reported 23 men were arrested in connection to the brothel

Another sex trafficking ring was shut down on Jan. 20 in Frisco after 42 men were busted at two hotels. A high school football coach, a youth pastor and a director of operations at a hospital were just some of those arrested during a multi-agency operation targeting the demand for commercial sex in North Texas, according to a statement by HSI

“The recent trafficking bust further reinforces the urgency of this bill,” a spokesperson for Shaheen told Local Profile. “Representative Shaheen has been focused on human trafficking issues since his freshman session.”