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Fort Bend County Targets Human Trafficking Operations, Multiple Charges Filed

(FORT BEND COUNTY) – Thirty-one charges have been filed and 17 victims found after a multi-agency collaboration in Fort Bend County targeting sex trafficking.

The Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office collaborated with the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance and partnering agencies to conduct two multi-day proactive operations in August and September of 2022. In total, the operations resulted in 31 charges filed and with 17 victims identified, including one juvenile victim.

Operation Heatwave was a buyer suppression operation conducted Aug. 17 and 18 in Sugar Land. The operation aimed to combat human trafficking in Fort Bend County by identifying and arresting those intending to buy sex. Commonly known as “johns,” they create the demand for human trafficking and contribute to the pervasive problem the community faces from these crimes, said representatives from the District Attorney’s Office.

Operation Sapphire was a victim recovery operation conducted Sept. 14 - 16 in Meadows Place. The operation focused on individuals engaged in human trafficking and identifying human trafficking victims. Because of the undercover operation, nine traffickers were identified, and 17 victims – including 15 adult women, one adult man and one juvenile girl.

“Our law enforcement officers and partnering agencies taking part in these operations made a significant impact in the sex-trafficking trade right here in Fort Bend County,” said District Attorney Brian Middleton. “Whether in a residential neighborhood or commercial establishment, we are watching. And once we have the evidence to act upon, we will come for you. Fort Bend County is, and will continue to be, one the safest places to live because of operations like these. We are setting the tone – do not come to Fort Bend County to commit crime.”

Thirty-one charges were filed, including compelling, promoting, and soliciting prostitution charges, trafficking of a person, and gun or drug-related charges. Those charged include Shashank Beri, Santiago Hernandez, Ryan Dermody, Roman Lopez, Rene Valdez, Michael Clevenger, Kened Osorio, Jonathan Ferguson, Jeffrey Joachim, Godlove Zuo, Ellehue Johnson, Edward Simms, Denzell Clarke, Damon Knighten, Brandon Anderson, August Jones and Anthony Lowry.

District Attorney Middleton also extended his thanks to the agencies that collaborated in these operations with the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office, noting that they were essential to the success of the operation.

The partner agencies included the Meadows Place Police Department, Missouri City Police Department, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, Sugar Land Police Department, Houston Police Department, Department of Public Safety, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Waller County Sheriff’s Office, Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office, and the Harris County Pct. 1 and 5 Constable’s Offices, and the YMCA International.


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